Bellario            Sir, if I have made
A fault in ignorance, instruct my youth:
I shall be willing, if not able, to learn:
Age and experience will adorn my mind
With larger knowledge; and if I have done
A wilful fault, think me not past all hope
For once.

Philaster, Act. II. Sc. I.


The following pages owe their existence to Mr. Martin White, whose keen interest in comparative sociology led to the opening of special courses for its investigation in the University of London.

My thanks are due to Mr. P.J. Hartog, Academic Registrar of the University, as well as to Dr. and Mrs. E.R. Edwards, who inspired me with the courage to take the present task on my inexperienced shoulders. But above all I render the expression of my deepest obligation to Professor Walter Rippmann. Had it not been for his friendly interest and help, I would not have been able thus to come before an English public. For the peculiarities of thought and language, which, if nothing else, might at least make the booklet worthy of a perusal, I naturally assume the full responsibility myself.

With these prefatory words, I venture to submit this essay to the lenient reception of my readers.


We have had illuminating books upon Japan. Those of Lafcadio Hearn will always be remembered for the poetry he brought in them to bear upon the poetic aspects of the country and the people. Buddhism had a fascination for him, as it had for Mr. Fielding in his remarkable book on the practice of this religion in Burma.[1] There is also the work of Captain Brinkley, to which we are largely indebted.

These Lectures by a son of the land, delivered at the University of London, are compendious and explicit in a degree that enables us to form a summary of much that has been otherwise partially obscure, so that we get nearer to the secret of this singular race than we have had the chance of doing before. He traces the course of Confucianism, Laoism, Shintoism, in the instruction it has given to his countrymen for the practice of virtue, as to which Lao-tze informs us with a piece of 'Chinese metaphysics' that can be had without having recourse to the dictionary: 'Superior virtue is non-virtue. Therefore it has virtue. Inferior virtue never loses sight of virtue. Therefore it has no virtue. Superior virtue is non-assertive and without pretension. Inferior virtue asserts and makes pretensions.' It is childishly subtle and easy to be understood of a young people in whose minds Buddhism and Shintoism formed a part.

The Japanese have had the advantage of possessing a native Nobility who were true nobles, not invaders and subjugators. They were, in the highest sense, men of honor to whom, before the time of this dreadful war, Hara-kiri was an imperative resource, under the smallest suspicion of disgrace. How rigidly they understood and practised Virtue, in the sense above cited, is exemplified in the way they renounced their privileges for the sake of the commonweal when the gates of Japan were thrown open to the West.

Bushido, or the 'way of the Samurai,' has become almost an English word, so greatly has it impressed us with the principle of renunciation on behalf of the Country's welfare. This splendid conception of duty has been displayed again and again at Port Arthur and on the fields of Manchuria, not only by the Samurai, but by a glorious commonalty imbued with the spirit of their chiefs.

All this is shown clearly by Professor Okakura in this valuable book.

It proves to general comprehension that such a people must be unconquerable even if temporarily defeated; and that is not the present prospect of things. Who could conquer a race of forty millions having the contempt of death when their country's inviolability is at stake! Death, moreover, is despised by them because they do not believe in it. 'The departed, although invisible, are thought to be leading their ethereal life in the same world in much the same state as that to which they had been accustomed while on earth.' And so, 'when the father of a Japanese family begins a journey of any length, the raised part of his room will be made sacred to his memory during his temporary absence; his family will gather in front of it and think of him, expressing their devotion and love in words and gifts in kind. In the hundreds of thousands of families that have some one or other of their members fighting for the nation in this dreadful war, there will not be even one solitary house where the mother, wife, or sister is not practising this simple rite of endearment for the beloved and absent member of the family.' Spartans in the fight, Stoics in their grief.

Concerning the foolish talk of the Yellow Peril, a studious perusal of this book will show it to be fatuous. It is at least unlikely in an extreme degree that such a people, reckless of life though they be in front of danger, but Epicurean in their wholesome love of pleasure and pursuit of beauty, will be inflated to insanity by the success of their arms. Those writers who have seen something malignant and inimical behind their gracious politeness, have been mere visitors on the fringe of the land, alarmed by their skill in manufacturing weapons and explosives—for they are inventive as well as imitative, a people not to be trifled with; but this was because their instinct as well as their emissaries warned them of a pressing need for the means of war. Japan and China have had experience of Western nations, and that is at the conscience of suspicious minds.

It may be foreseen that when the end has come, the Kaiser, always honourably eager for the influence of his people, will draw a glove over the historic 'Mailed Fist' and offer it to them frankly. It will surely be accepted, and that of France, we may hope; Russia as well. England is her ally—to remain so, we trust; America is her friend. She has, in fact, won the admiration of Friend and Foe alike.



Since the end of the thirteenth century, when Marco Polo, on his return to Venice, wrote about 'Cipango,' an island, as he stated, '1500 miles off the coast of China, fabulously rich, and inhabited by people of agreeable manners,' many a Western pen has been wielded to tell all kinds of tales concerning the Land of the Rising Sun. Her long seclusion; her anxious care to guard inviolate the simple faith which had been gravely threatened by the Roman Church; her hearty welcome of the honoured guests from the West, after centuries of independent growth; the sudden, almost pathetic, changes she has gone through in the past forty years in order to equip herself for a place on the world's stage where powers play their game of balance; the lessons she lately taught the still slumbering China through the mouths of thundering cannon: all this has called into existence the expression of opinions and comments of very varying merit and tone; and especially since the out-break of the present war, when the daily news from the scenes of action, where my brethren are fighting for the cause of wronged justice and menaced liberty, is showing the world page after page of patriotism and loyalty, written unmistakably in the crimson letters of heroes' blood,—all this has given occasion to Europe and America to think the matter over afresh. Here you have at least a nation different in her development from any existing people in the Occident. Governed from time immemorial by the immediate descendants of the Sun-Goddess, whose merciful rule early taught us to offer them our voluntary tribute of devotion and love, we have based our social system on filial piety, that necessary outcome of ancestor-worship which presupposes altruism on the one hand, and on the other loyalty and love of the fatherland. Different doctrines of religion and morality have found their way from their continental homes to the silvery shores of the Land of the Gods, only to render their several services towards consolidating and widening the so-called 'Divine Path,' that national cult whose unwritten tenets have lurked for thousands of years hidden in the most sacred corner of our hearts, whose pulse is ever beating its rhythm of patriotism and loyalty. Buddhist metaphysics, Confucian and Taoist philosophy, have been fused together in the furnace of Shintoism for fifteen centuries and a half, and that apart from the outer world, in the island home of Japan, where the blue sky looks down on gay blossoms and gracefully sloping mountains. The final amalgamation of these forces produces, among other results, the works of art and the feats of bravery now before you, each bearing the ineffaceable hall-marks of Japan's past history. Surely here you are face to face with a people worthy of serious investigation, not only from the disinterested point of view of a folk-psychologist. It is a study which will open to any impartial observer a new horizon, more so than would be the case if he attempted the sociological interpretation of a nation the history of whose development was almost identical with that of his own. Here he meets totally different sets of things with totally different ways of looking at them; and this gives him ample occasion to realise the fact that human thought and action may evolve in several forms and through several channels before they reach their respective culmination where they all, regardless of their original differences, melt into the common sea of truth.

But this simple fact that 'God fulfills Himself in many ways,' as your Tennyson has it, so necessary to ensure freedom from national bigotry and conventional ignorance, so necessary too for a proper understanding of oneself as the cumulative product of a nation's history, has not always been kept in mind, even by those otherwise well-meaning authors, whose works have some charm as descriptive writing, but give only a superficial and often misleading account of the inner life of the nation. True, a great deal of excellent work has been achieved by a number of scholars of lasting merit, from Kaempfe's memorable work first published in its English translation as early as 1727, down to the admirable Interpretation written last year by the late Mr. Lafcadio Hearn, in whose death Japan lost one of her most precious friends, possessing as he did the scholar's insight and the poet's pen, two heavenly gifts seldom found united in a single man. It is mainly through the remarkable labour of two learned bodies, the Asiatic Society of Japan, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens, both with their headquarters in Tôkyô—in whose indefatigable researches the 'Japan Society' in this city has ably joined since 1892—that most valuable data have been constantly brought to light, furnishing for future students sure bases for wider generalizations. But owing to the numerous hindrances—some of which look almost insurmountable to the Western investigator—a fair synthetic interpretation of Japan as a nation, explaining all the important forces that underlie the psychic and physical phenomena, still remains to be written. The most formidable of the difficulties which meet a European or American student at the very threshold of his researches is the totally different construction of Japanese society, a difficulty which makes it impossible to understand properly any set of the phenomena belonging to it apart from the others which surround them. One could as well cut a single mesh from a net without prejudice to the neighbouring ones! The proper understanding of things Japanese therefore presupposes freedom from your conventional philosophy of life, and the power of viewing things through other people's eyes.

Besides this obstacle, there are many others; for example, that of the language. Like most other nations in the East, we have been accustomed, up to this very day, to use a written language, divided within itself into several styles, which is considerably different from the vernacular. To make this state of things still more complicated, Chinese characters are profusely resorted to in the native writings, and are used not only as so many ideographs for words of Chinese origin, but also to represent native words. To make confusion worse confounded, they are not infrequently used as pure phonetic symbols without any further meaning attaching to them. So one and the same sign may be read in half a dozen different ways, according to the hints, more or less sure, given by the context. All this makes the study of Japanese immensely difficult. It is difficult even for a Japanese with the best opportunities; a hundred times more so, then, for a Western scholar who, if he cares to study the subject at first hand at all, begins this study, comparatively speaking, late in life, when his memory has well-nigh lost the capacity of bearing such an enormous burden!

Still, there have been many Western scholars who, nothing daunted by the above-mentioned hindrances, have done much valuable work. English names like those of Sir E. Satow, G.W. Aston, B.H. Chamberlain, Lafcadio Hearn are to be gratefully remembered by all future students in this field of inquiry, as well as such German scholars as Dr. Baelz and Dr. Florenz. Leaving the enumeration of general works on Japan, whose name is legion, for some other time, let me mention one or two of those works of reference which a would-be English scholar of Japanese matters might find very useful. First of all Mr. B.H. Chamberlain's Things Japanese—a book which gave birth to Mr. J.D. Hall's equally indispensable Things Chinese—containing in cyclopædic form a mine of information about Japan. Dr. Wenckstern's painstaking Japanese Bibliography, with M. de Losny's earlier attempt as a supplement, gives you the list of all writings on Japan in European tongues that have appeared up to 1895. For those who want good books on the Japanese language, Mr. Aston's Grammar of the Japanese Written Language, Mr. Chamberlain's Handbook of Colloquial Japanese, as well as the same author's Monzi-no-Shirubi, a Practical Introduction to the Study of the Japanese Writing, are the best. As for books on the subject from the pen of the Japanese themselves, Dr. Nitobe's Bushido, Explanations of the Japanese Thought, and my brother K. Okakura's Ideals of the East, besides a volume by several well-known Japanese, entitled Japan by the Japanese, are to be specially mentioned.[2]

What I myself propose to do in this essay is to give to the best of my ability, and so far as is possible with the scanty knowledge and the limited space at my disposal, a simple statement in plain language of what I think to be the fundamental truths necessary for the proper understanding of my fatherland. I am not vain enough to attempt any original solution of the old difficulty; knowing as I do my own deficiencies, I should be well satisfied if I could manage to give you some kind of general introduction to the Japanese views of life.

So much for the preliminary remarks. Let us now take a step further and see what factors are to be considered as the bases of modern Japan.

'To which race do the Japanese belong?' is the first question asked by any one who wants to approach our subject from the historical point of view. Unfortunately not much is known as yet about our place in racial science. If we do not take into account the inhabitants of the newly annexed island of Formosa, we have, roughly speaking, two very different races in our whole archipelago—the hairy Aino and the ruling Yamato race, the former being the supposed aborigines, physically sturdy and well developed, with their characteristic abundant growth of hair, who are at present to be found only in the Yezo island in the northern extremity of Japan, and whose number, notwithstanding all the care of our government, is fast dwindling, the sum total being not much more than 15,000. The Aino have a tradition that the land had been occupied before them by another race of dwarfish stature called Koropokguru, who are identified by some scholars with those primitive pit-dwellers known in our history as Tuchigumo,[3] whose traces, although scanty, are still to be met with in various parts of Yezo. Anyhow, we see at the first dawn of history the aborigines gradually receding before the conquering Yamato race, who are found steadily pushing on towards the northeast, and who finally established themselves as a ruling body under the divine banner of the first emperor Jimmu, from whose accession we reckon our era, the present year being the 2565th, according to our recognised way of counting dates.

Suggestions, audacious rather than strictly scientific, have been put forward as to the original home both of the Aino and the Japanese. The Rev. I. Dooman, for instance, proposed in his paper read before the meeting of the Asiatic Society of Japan in 1897 to derive both from the people who had been living, according to him, on both sides of the great Himalayan range. 'The Aino,' he says, 'the first inhabitants of these (Japanese) islands, belong to the South Himalayan Centre; while the Japanese, the second comers, belong to the North Himalayan, commonly called Altaic races.'[4] But in face of the scanty knowledge at our command about the respective sets of people in question, such wholesale conjecture had better be postponed until some later time, when further research shall have supplied surer data for our speculations. As regards the Aino, we must for the present say, on the authority of Mr. Chamberlain, that, remembering how the Aino race is isolated from all other living races by its hairiness and by the extraordinary flattening of the tibia and humerus, it is not strange to find the language isolated too.[5]

With respect to the Japanese proper, the only thing known about their racial affinity is the theory proposed by the German scholar Dr. Baelz, as the result of his elaborate measurements both of living specimens and skeletons.[6] He considers the Yamato race to belong to the Mongolian stock of the Asiatic continent, from where they proceeded to Japan by way of the Corean peninsula. There are two distinct types noticeable among them at present, one characterised by a delicate, refined appearance, with oval face, rather oblique eyes, slightly Roman nose, and a frame not vigorous yet well proportioned; the other marked out by broader face, projecting cheek bones, flat nose, and horizontal eyes, while the body is more robust and muscular, though not so well proportioned and regular. The former is to be met with among the better classes and in the southern parts of Japan, while the specimens of the latter are found rather among the labouring population, and are more abundant in the northern provinces. This difference of types, aristocratic and plebeian, which is still more conspicuous among the fair sex, is with good reason attributed to the two-fold wave of Mongolian emigration which reached our island in prehistoric times. The first emigrants, consisting of coarser tribes of the Mongolian race, landed most probably on the northern coast of the main island somewhere in the present Idzumo province, and settled down there, while the second wave broke on the shores of Kyûshû. These emigrants seem to have belonged to the more refined branch of the great Mongolian stock. This hypothesis is borne out by our mythology, which divides itself into two cycles, one centring at Idzumo and the other at Kyûshû, and which tell us how the great-grandfather of the first great emperor Jimmu descended from heaven on to the peak of the mountain Takachiho in Hyûga in Kyûshû. Accompanied by his brother, he started from this spot on his march of conquering migration to Yamato, fighting and subduing on his way tribes who on the continent were once his kith and kin.

It might perhaps interest you to know something of our prevailing idea of personal beauty, especially as, in such a homogeneous nation as the Japanese, ruled from time immemorial by one and the same line of dynasty, it may help us to make some vague conjectures as to the physical appearances of at least one of those continental tribes out of which our nation has been formed. The standard of beauty naturally fluctuates a little according to sex and locality. In a lady, for example, mildness and grace are, generally speaking, preferred to that strength or manliness of expression which would be thought more becoming in her brother. Tôkyô again does not put so much stress on the fleshiness of limbs and face as does Kyôto. But, as a whole, there is only one ideal throughout the Empire. So let me try to enumerate all the qualities usually considered necessary to make a beautiful woman. She is to possess a body not much exceeding five feet in height, with comparatively fair skin and proportionately well-developed limbs; a head covered with long, thick, and jet-black hair; an oval face with a straight nose, high and narrow; rather large eyes, with large deep-brown pupils and thick eyelashes; a small mouth, hiding behind its red, but not thin, lips, even rows of small white teeth; ears not altogether small; and long and thick eyebrows forming two horizontal but slightly curved lines, with a space left between them and the eyes. Of the four ways in which hair can grow round the upper edge of the forehead, viz., horned, square, round, and Fuji-shaped, one of the last two is preferred, a very high as well as a very low forehead being considered not attractive.

Such are, roughly speaking, the elements of Japanese female beauty. Eyes and eyebrows with the outer ends turning considerably upwards, with which your artists depict us, are due to those Japanese colour prints which strongly accentuate our dislike of the reverse, for straight eyes and eyebrows make a very bad impression on us, suggesting weakness, lasciviousness, and so on. It must also be understood that in Japan no such variety of types of beauty is to be met with as is noticed here in Europe. Blue eyes and blond hair, the charms of which we first learn to feel after a protracted stay among you, are regarded in a Japanese as something extraordinary in no favourable sense of the term! A girl with even a slight tendency to grey eyes or frizzly hair is looked upon as an unwelcome deviation from the national type.

If we now consider our mythology, with a view to tracing the continental home of the Yamato race, we find, to our disappointment, that our present knowledge is too scanty to allow us to arrive at a conclusion. Indeed, so long as the general science of mythology itself remains in that unsettled condition in which its youth obliges it to linger, and especially so long as the Indian and Chinese bodies of myths—by which our mythology is so unmistakably influenced—do not receive more serious systematic treatment, the recorded stories of the Japanese deities cannot be expected to supply us with much indication as to our continental home. One thing is certain about them, that they were not free from influences exerted by the different myths prevalent among the Chinese and the Indians at the time when they were written down in our earliest history, the Ko-ji-ki or Records of Ancient Matter, completed in A.D. 712. There is an excellent English translation of the book, with an admirable introduction and notes, by Mr. B.H. Chamberlain. According to this book, the original ethereal chaos with which the world began gradually congealed, and was finally divided into heaven and earth. The male and female principles now at work gave birth to several deities, until a pair of deities named Izanagi and Izanami, or the 'Male-who-invites' and the 'Female-who-invites,' were produced. They married, and produced first of all the islands of Japan big and small, and then different deities, until the birth of the Fire-God cost the divine mother her life. She subsequently retired to the Land of Darkness or Hades, where her sorrowful consort descended, Orpheus-like, in quest of his spouse. He failed to bring her back to the outer world, for, like the Greek musician, he broke his promise not to look at her in her more profound retirement. The result was disastrous. Izanagi barely escaped from his now furious wife, and on coming back to daylight he washed himself in a stream, in order to purify himself from the hideous sights and the pollution of the nether-world. This custom of lustration is, by the way, kept up to this day in the symbolic sprinkling of salt over persons returning from a funeral—salt representing pure water, as our name for it, 'the flower of the waves,' well indicates. Our love of cleanliness and of bathing might be also recognised in this early custom. Impurity, whether mental or corporal, has always been regarded as a great evil, and even as a sin.

Now one of the most important results of the purification of the god Izanagi was the birth of three important deities through the washing of his eyes and nose. The Moon-God and the Sun-Goddess emerged from his washing his right and left eyes, while Susanowo, their youngest brother, owed his existence to the washing of his nose; three illustrious children to whom the divine father trusted the dominion of night, day, and the seas.

The last-mentioned deity, whose name would mean in English 'Prince Impetuous,' lost his father's favour by his obstinate longing to see Izanami, the divine mother, in Hades, and was expelled from the father's presence. He eventually went up to heaven to pay a visit to his sister, the Sun-Goddess, whom he gravely offended by his monstrous outrages on her person, and who was consequently so angry that she shut herself up in a rocky chamber, thus causing darkness in the world outside. In accordance with the deliberate plans worked out by an assembly of a myriad gods, she was at last allured from her cavern by the sounds of wild merriment caused by the burlesque dancing of a female deity, and day reigned once more.

The now repenting offender was driven down from heaven, and he wandered about the earth. It was during this wandering that in Idzumo he, like Perseus, rescued a beautiful young maid from an eight-headed serpent. He won her hand and lived very happily with her ever after.

In the meantime the state of things in the 'High Plain of Heaven' ripened to the point that the Sun-Goddess began to think of sending her august child to govern the 'Luxuriant-Reed-Plain-Land-of-Fresh-Rice-Ears,' that is to say, Japan. Messages were previously sent to pacify the land for the reception of the divine ruler. This took much time, during which a grandson was born to the Sun-Goddess, and in the end it was this grandson who was designated to come down to earth instead of his father. On his departure a formal command to descend and rule the land now placed under his care was accompanied by the present of a mirror, a sword, and a string of crescent-shaped jewels. These treasures, still preserved in our imperial household as regalia, are generally interpreted to mean the three virtues of wisdom, courage, and mercy—necessary qualities for a perfect ruler. It was on the high peak of Mount Takachiho that the divine ruler descended to earth. He settled down in the country until his great-grandson, known in history as Emperor Jimmu, founded the empire and began that unique line of rulers who have governed the 'Land of the Gods' for more than two thousand years, the present emperor being the hundred and twenty-first link in the eternal chain.

Such is, in brief, the story about my country before it was brought under the rule of one central governing body. Subjected to scientific scrutiny the whole tale presents many gaps in logical sequence. It betrays, besides, traces of an intermingling of the early beliefs of other nations. Still, it must be said that the divine origin of our emperors has invested their throne with the double halo of temporal and of spiritual power from the earliest days of their ascendancy; and the people, themselves the descendants of those patriarchs who served under the banners of Emperor Jimmu, or else of those who early learned to bow themselves down before the divine conqueror, have looked up to this throne with an ever-growing reverence and pride.

In primitive Japan, as in every other primitive human society, ancestor-worship was the first form of belief. Each family had its own departed spirits of forefathers to whom was dedicated a daily homage of simple words and offerings in kind. The guardian ghosts demanded of their living descendants that they should be good and brave in their own way. As these families of the same race and language gathered themselves around the strongest of them all, imbued with a firm belief in its divine origin, they contributed in their turn their own myths to the imperial ones, thus eventually forming and consolidating a national cult; and it was but natural that the people's heart should come in course of time to re-echo in harmony with the keynote struck by the one through whom the gods breathe eternal life. The whole nation is bound by that sacred tie of common belief and common thought. Here lies the great gap that separates, for example, the Chinese cult of fatalism from our Path of Gods as a moral force. The Chinese have believed from the earliest times in one supreme god whom they called the Divine Presider (Shang-ti) or the August Heaven (Hwang-t'ien or simply T'ien), who, according to their notion, carefully selects a fit person from among swarming mankind to be the temporary ruler of his fellow-countrymen, but only for so long as it pleases the god to let him occupy the throne. At the expiration of a certain period, the heavenly mission (T'ien-ming) is transferred through bloodshed and national disaster to another mortal, who exercises the earthly rule until he or his descendants incur the disfavour of the 'Heaven above.' To this day the Chinese word for revolution means the 'renovation of missions' (kweh-ming). This fatalistic idea, which is but a natural outcome of the almost too democratic nature of the people of the Celestial Empire and of the frequent changes of dynasties it has had to go through, is almost unknown in our island home in its gravest aspects; more than that, ever since its introduction into Japan, this idea, along with the Indian doctrine of pitiless fate, has gradually taught us to offer a more resigned and determined service to our respective superiors who culminate in the divine person of the Emperor himself. This is well illustrated by the fact that no attempt at the formal occupation of the throne has ever been made, even on the part of those powerful Shoguns who were the real rulers of our country; they knew full well how dangerous and fatal for themselves it would be to tamper with that hinge on which the nation's religious life turns. Only once in our long history is there an example of an unsuccessful attempt (and it is the highest treason a Japanese subject can think of), when a Buddhist monk named Dôkyô, encouraged by the undue devotion of the ruling empress, tried to ascend the throne by means of the recognition of the higher temporal rank of the Buddhist priesthood over the imperial ministry of the native cult. This imminent danger was averted by the bold and resolute patriotism of a Shinto priest, Wake-no-Kiyomaro, who, in Luther-like defiance of all peril and personal risks, declared fearlessly, in the very presence of the haughty and menacing head of the Buddhist Church, the divine will, 'Japan is to know no emperor except in the person of the divine descendants of the Sun-Goddess!'

Turning now to the question of language, we must confess that the linguistic affinities of Japanese are as little cleared up as the other problems we have been considering. The only thing we know about the Japanese language amounts to this: it belongs, morphologically speaking, to the so-called agglutinative languages, e.g., those which express their grammatical functions by the addition of etymologically independent elements—prefixes and suffixes—to the unchangeable roots or base forms. Genealogically, to follow the classification expounded by Friedrich Müller in his Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft, who based his system on Haeckel's division of the human race by the nature and particularly the section of the hair, Japanese is one of the languages or groups of languages spoken by the Mongolian race.

But this characterisation of our tongue does not help us much. One could as well point to the East at large to show where Japan lies! Notwithstanding the general uncertainty as regards the exact position of our language, this much is sure, that Japanese has, in spite of the immense number of loan-words of Chinese origin, no fundamental connection with the monosyllabic language of China, whose different syntactical nature and want of common roots baffles the attempts on the part of some speculative Europeans to connect it with our own tongue. At the same time, it is well known among competent scholars that Japanese, with its most distant dialect Luchuan, bears great kinship to the Corean, Manchurian, and Mongolian languages. It shares with them, besides the dislike of commencing a word with a trilled sound or with a sonant, almost the same rules for the arrangement of the component elements of a sentence. According to the Japanese syntax, the following rules can, for instance, be applied to Corean without alteration:—

1. All the qualifying words and phrases are put before those they qualify. Attributive adjectives and adverbs, and their equivalents, are placed before nouns and verbs they modify.

2. The grammatical subject stands at the beginning of the sentence.

3. Predicative elements are at the end of a sentence.

4. Direct and indirect objects follow the subject.

5. Subordinate sentences precede the principal ones.

One thing worthy of notice is the fact that, notwithstanding the most convincing structural similarity that exists between these affiliated languages, they contain, comparatively speaking, few words in common, even among the numerals and personal pronouns, which have played such an important part in Indo-European philology. We must still wait a long time before a better knowledge of linguistic affinity reveals such decisive links of connection as will enable us to trace our Japanese home on the continent.

Let us now consider what were the effects of the continental civilisation on the mental development of the Japanese within their insular home.

Before entering into details about the various continental doctrines implanted in our country from China and India, it may be well to tell you something of the mental attitude of the Japanese in facing a new form of culture, in many senses far superior to their own. Nothing definite can perhaps be said about it; but when we grope along the main cord of historical phenomena we think we find that the Japanese as a whole are not a people with much aptitude for deep metaphysical ways of thinking. They are not of the calibre from which you expect a Kant or a Schopenhauer. Warlike by nature more than anything else, they have been known from the very beginning to have had the soldier-like simplicity and the easy contentment of men of action—qualities which the practical nature of Confucian ethics had ample chance to develop. The abstruse conceptions of Chinese or Indian origin have been received into the Japanese mind just as they were preached, and usually we have not troubled ourselves to think them out again; but in accordance with our peculiarly quick habit of perceiving the inner meaning of things, we have generalised them straight away and turned them immediately into so many working principles. There are any number of instances of slight hints given by some people on the continent and worked out to suit our own purposes into maxims of immediate and practical value. Ideals in their original home are ideals no longer in our island home. They are interpreted into so many realities with a direct bearing on our daily life. We have been and are, even to this day, always in need of some new hints and suggestions to work up into so many dynamic forces for practical use. Upon Europe and America the full power of our mental searchlight is now playing, in quest of those new ideas for future development for which we have been accustomed to draw mainly on China and India. Even such a commonplace thing as the drinking of a cup of tea becomes in our hands something more: it becomes a training in stoic serenity, in the capacity of smiling at life's troubles and disturbances. Some day you might learn from us a new philosophy based on the use of motor cars and telephones as applied to life and conduct!

This, as you will see, explains why we have failed to produce any original thinkers; this is why we have to recognise our indebtedness 
 for almost all the important ideas which have brought about social innovation either to China or to India, or else to the modern Western nations; and this notwithstanding so many national idiosyncrasies and characteristics which are to be found in the productions of our art and in our life and ways, and which are even as handfuls of grain gathered in foreign fields and brewed into a national drink of utterly Japanese flavour. We are, I think, a people of the Present and the Tangible, of the broad Daylight and the plainly Visible. The undeniable proclivity of our mind in favour of determination and action, as contrasted with deliberation and calm, makes it an uncongenial ground for the sublimity and grandeur of that 'loathed melancholy, of Cerberus and blackest midnight born,' to take deep root in it. Pure reasoning as such has had for us little value beyond the help it affords us in harbouring our drifting thought in some nearest port, where we can follow any peaceful occupation rather than be fighting what we should call a useless fight with troubled billows and unfathomable depths. Such, according to my personal view, are the facts about our mentality considered generally. And now it is necessary to speak of the main waves of cult and culture that successively washed our shores.

The first mention in our history of the introduction of the Chinese learning into the imperial household places it in the reign of the fifteenth emperor Ô-jin, in the year 284 after Christ according to the earliest native records, but according to more trustworthy recent computation[7] considerably later than that date. We are told that a certain prince was put under the tutorship of a learned Corean scholar of Chinese, who, at the request of the emperor, came over to Japan with the Confucian Analects (Iun-yü) and some other Chinese classics as a tribute from the King of Kudara. But long before the learning of the Celestial Empire found its way through Corea into our imperial court, it had in all probability been making its silent influence felt here and there among the Japanese people. Great swarms of immigrants had sought a final place of rest in our sea-girt country from many parts of China, where raging tyranny and menacing despotism made life intolerable even for Chinese meekness; these, and the bands of daring invaders which Japan sent out from time to time to the Corean and Chinese coasts, had given us many opportunities of coming into contact with the learning prevalent among our continental neighbours. In this manner Chinese literature, with its groundwork of Confucian ethics, surrounded by the strange lore derived from Taoism, and perhaps also from Hindu sources, had been gradually but surely attracting the ever-increasing attention of our warlike forefathers, who were to become in course of time its devoted admirers.

Now, Confucianism pure and simple, as taught by the sage Kung-foo-tsze (551-478 B.C.), from whom the doctrine derived its name, was, notwithstanding the contention of the famous English sinologue Dr. Legge, nothing more and nothing less than an aggregate of ethical ideas considered in their application to the conduct and duties of our everyday life. 'The great teacher never allowed himself to be considered an expounder of any new system of either religious or metaphysical ideas. He was content to call himself 'a transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients.' True to the spirit of these words, and most probably having no other course open to him on account of his extremely utilitarian turn of mind, he devoted his whole life to the elucidation of the True Path of human life, as exemplified by those half-mythical rulers of old China, Yaô, Shun, etc., from whom he derived his ideals and his images of perfect man in flesh and blood. These early kings were of course no creation of Confucius himself; the only thing he did was to place the forms, which popular tradition had handed down surrounded by legendary halos, in high relief before the people, as perfect models to regulate the earthly conduct of the individuals as members of a society. His attitude towards the ancient classics which he compiled and perpetuated was that of one transmitting faithfully. He studied them, and exhorted and helped his disciples to do the same, but he did not alter them, nor even digest them into their present form.'[8] In order to find concrete examples to show his ethical views more positively, he wrote a history of his native state Loò from 722 to 484 B.C., in which, while faithfully recording events, he took every opportunity to jot down his moral judgment upon them in the terse words and phrases he knew so well how to wield. As abstract reasoning had little charm for his practical mind, he systematically avoided indulging in discussions of a metaphysical nature. 'How can we know anything of an After-life, when we are so ignorant even of the Living,' was his answer when asked by one of his disciples about Death. Ancestor-worship he sanctioned, as might naturally be expected from his enthusiastic advocacy of things ancient, and also from the importance he attached to filial piety, which strikes the keynote of his ethical ideas. But here too his indifference to the spiritual side of the question is very remarkable. Perhaps he found the holy altar of his day so much encumbered by the presence of innumerable fetishes and demons, that he felt little inclination to approach and sweep them away. 'To give oneself,' he said on one occasion, 'to the duties due to men, and while respecting spiritual things to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.'

The main features which he advocated are found well reflected in the first twelve out of sixteen articles of the so-called sacred Edict, published by the famous K'ang Hsi (1654-1722), the second emperor of the present Manchu dynasty, in 1670 A.D., which embody the essential points of Confucianism, as adapted to the requirements of modern everyday Chinese life.

1. Esteem most highly filial piety and brotherly submission, in order to give due prominence to the social relations.

2. Behave with generosity to the branches of your kindred, in order to illustrate harmony and benignity.

3. Cultivate peace and concord in your neighbourhood, in order to prevent quarrels and litigation.

4. Recognise the importance of husbandry and the culture of the mulberry-tree, in order to ensure sufficiency of food and clothing.

5. Show that you prize moderation and economy, in order to prevent the lavish waste of your means.

6. Make much of the colleges and seminaries, in order to make correct the practice of the scholars.

7. Discountenance and banish strange doctrines, in order to exalt correct doctrines.

8. Describe and explain the laws, in order to warn the ignorant and obstinate.

9. Exhibit clearly propriety and gentle courtesy, in order to improve manners and customs.

10. Labour diligently at your proper callings, in order to give well-defined aims to the people.

11. Instruct sons and younger brothers, in order to prevent them doing what is wrong.

12. Put a stop to false accusations, in order to protect the honest and the good.

Here too you see what an important place filial piety occupies, which Confucius himself prized so highly. The Hsiao King, or the 'Sacred Book of Filial Piety,' which is supposed to record conversations held between Confucius and his disciple Tsang Ts'an on that weighty subject, has the following passage: 'He who (properly) serves his parents in a high situation will be free from haughtiness; in a low situation he will be free from insubordination; whilst among his equals he will not be quarrelsome. In a high position haughtiness leads to ruin; among the lowly insubordination means punishment; among equals quarrelsomeness tends to the wielding of weapons.' These words, naïve as they are, express the exalted position filial affection occupies in the eyes of Confucianism. 'Dutiful subjects are to be found in the persons of filial sons,' and again, 'Filial piety is the source whence all other good actions take their rise,' are other sayings expressing its importance.

Along with this virtue, other forms of moral force, such as mercy, uprightness, courage, politeness, fidelity, and loyalty, have been duly considered and commended by the great teacher himself and his disciples. Among these, Mencius (373-289 B.C.) is most enterprising and attractive, digesting and systematising with a great deal of philosophic talent the rather fragmentary ideas of his great master. It is he who, among other things, informs us, on the assumed authority of a passage in the Shu-King, how the sage Shun made it a subject of his anxious solicitude to teach the five constituent relationships of society, viz., affection between father and son; relations of righteousness between ruler and subject; the assigning of their proper spheres to husband and wife; distinction of precedence between old and young; and fidelity between friend and friend—an idea which has played such an important part in the history of the development of the Oriental mind.

Such were the main features of Confucianism when it first reached Japan, some centuries after the Christian era. But it was not until some time after the introduction of Buddhism from Corea during the reign of the Emperor Kimmei, in 552 A.D., that Confucianism and Chinese learning began to take firm root and make their influence felt among us. Paradoxical as it looks, it is Buddhism that so greatly helped the teaching of the Chinese sage to establish itself as a ruling factor in Japanese society. This curious state of things came about in this way. The gospel of Shâkya-muni has, ever since its introduction into our country, been made accessible only through the Chinese translation, which demanded a considerable knowledge of the written language of the Middle Kingdom. The keen and far-reaching spiritual interest aroused by Buddhism gave a fresh and vigorous impulse to the study of Chinese literature, already increasingly cultivated for some centuries. Now, the knowledge of Chinese in its written form has, until quite recently, always been imparted by a painful perusal of the Chinese classics and Chinese books deeply imbued with Confucianism. It was only after a considerable amount of knowledge of this difficult language had been obtained in this unnatural way, that one came in contact with the works of authors not strictly orthodox. This way of teaching Chinese through Confucian texts, which we adopted from China's faithful agent, Corea, necessarily led from the very beginning to an intimate acquaintance with the main aspects of the Confucian morals in our upper classes, among whom alone the study was at first pursued with any seriousness. Although skilled in warlike arts, gentle and loyal in domestic life, our forefathers were simple in manners and thought in those olden days when book-learned reasons of duty had not yet superseded the naïve observance of the dictates of the heart and of responsibility to the ancestral spirits. They possessed no letters of their own, and consequently no literature, except in unwritten songs and legendary lore sung from mouth to mouth, telling of the gods and men who formed the glorious past of the Yamato race. So it is not difficult to imagine the dazzling effect which the Chinese learning, with its richness and its pedantry, with its elaborate system of civil government and its philosophy, produced upon our untrained eyes. Gradually but steadfastly it had been gaining ground, and making its slow way from the topmost rung to the bottom of the social ladder, when the introduction of Buddhism quickened the now resistless progress. The would-be priests and advocates of the Indian creed felt a fresh impulse and spiritual need to learn the Chinese language, for which they had long entertained a high estimation. Owing to the extremely secular character of the Confucian ethics on the one hand, and on the other, to the fact that Buddhists deny the existence of a personal god, and are eager to minister salvation through any adequate means so long as it does not contradict the Law of the Universe upon which the whole doctrine is based, Buddhism found in the teaching of the Chinese sage and his followers not only no enemy, but, on the contrary, a helpful friend. It found that the sacred books of Confucian doctrine contained only in a slightly different form the five commandments laid down by Shâkya-muni himself for the regulation of the conduct of a layman, viz.:—

1. Not to destroy life nor to cause its destruction.

2. Not to steal.

3. Not to commit adultery.

4. Not to tell lies.

5. Not to indulge in intoxicating drinks; or the Buddhist warning against the ten sins; three of the body—taking life, theft, adultery; four of speech—lying, slander, abuse, and vain conversation; three of the mind—covetousness, malice, and scepticism.

It saw also that Confucian writings embraced its fifty precepts[9] detailed under the five different secular relationships of

1. Parents and children.

2. Pupils and teachers.

3. Husbands and wives.

4. Friends and companions.

5. Masters and servants.

Our early Buddhists therefore did not see why they should try to suppress the existing Confucian moral code and supplant it with their own which breathed the same spirit, only because it had not grown on Indian soil.

Thus encouraged by the now influential advocates of the teaching of Buddha, themselves admirers of the Chinese learning, Confucianism began with renewed vigour to exercise a great influence on the future of the Japanese. This took place during the seventh century, when the reorganisation of the Japanese government after the model of that of the Celestial Empire made our educational system quite Chinese. In addition to a university, there were many provincial schools where candidates for the government service were instructed. Medicine, mathematics, including astronomy and law, taught through Chinese books, along with the all-important teaching in the Confucian ethics and in Chinese literature generally, were the branches of study cultivated under the guidance of professors whose calling had become hereditary among a certain number of learned families. In the course of the next two centuries we see several private institutions founded by great nobles of the court, with an endowment in land for their support. The native system of writing which had gradually emerged out of the phonetic use of Chinese ideographs made it possible for Japanese thought, hitherto expressed only in an uncongenial foreign garb, to appear in purely Japanese attire. Thus we find the dawn of Japanese civilisation appearing at the beginning of the tenth century after Christ. The air was replete with the Buddhist thought of after-life and the Confucian ideas of broad-day morality. The sonorous reading of the Book of Filial Piety was heard all over the country, echoing with the loud recital of the Myôhô-renge-kyô (or Saddharma Pundarika Sûtra).

During the dark and dreary Middle Ages which followed this golden period, and which were brought about by the degeneration of the ruling nobles and by the gradually rising power of the military class, Chinese learning fled to the protecting hands of Buddhist priests; and in its quiet refuge within the monastery walls it continued to breathe its humble existence, until it found at the beginning of the sixteenth century a powerful patron in the great founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The education of the common people, too, seems to have been kept up by the monks—a fact still preserved in the word tera-koya, 'church seminary,' a term used, until forty years ago, to express the tiny private schools for children. It must be remembered that the education thus given was always of an exclusively secular character, basing itself on the Confucian morals.

Before passing on to the consideration of Laoism, let me say something about the so-called orthodox form of the teaching of Confucius, which is one of the latest developments of that doctrine. Orthodox Confucianism, as represented by the famous Chinese philosopher and commentator of the Confucian canon, Chu-Hsi (1130-1200), found its admirer in a Japanese scholar, Fujiwara-no-Seigwa (1560-1619), who in his youth had joined the priesthood, which however he afterwards renounced. He gave lectures on the Chinese classics at Kyôto. He was held in great esteem by Tokugawa Iyeyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa line of Shoguns, who embraced the Chinese system of ethics as preached by Chu-Hsi. During the two hundred and fifty years of the Tokugawa rule, this system, under the hereditary direction of the descendants of Hayashi Razan (1583-1657), one of the most distinguished disciples of Seigwa, was recognised as the established doctrine.

According to the somewhat hazy ideas of Chu-Hsi's philosophy, which I ask your permission to sketch here on account of the high public esteem in which we have held them for the last three centuries, the ultimate basis of the universe is Infinity, or Tai Kieh, which, though containing within itself all the germs of all forms of existence and excellence, is utterly void of form or sensible qualities. It consists of two qualities, li and chi, which may be roughly rendered into 'force-element' and 'matter-element.' These are self-existences, are present in all things, and are found in their formation. The 'force-element,' or li, we are told, is the perfection of heavenly virtue. It is in inanimate things as well as in man and other animate beings, and pervades all space. The 'matter-element,' or chi, is endowed with the male and the female principles, or positive and negative polarities, as we might call them. It is, moreover, characterised by the five constituent qualities of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Hence its other name, Wu-hsieng, or 'Five Qualities.'

Things and animals, except human beings, get only portions of the force-element, but man receives it in full, and this becomes in his person sing, or real human nature. He has thus within him the perfect mirror of the heavenly virtue and complete power of understanding. There is no difference in this respect between a sage and an ordinary man. To both the force-element is uniformly given. But the matter-element, from which is derived his form and material existence, and which constitutes the basis of his mental disposition, is different in quality in different men.

Man's real nature, or sing, although originally perfect, becomes affected on entering into him, or is modified by his mental disposition, which differs according to the different state of the matter-element. Thus a second nature is formed out of the original. It is through this second and tainted human nature that man acts well or ill. When a man does evil, that is the result of his mental disposition covering or interfering with his original perfect nature. Wipe this vapour of corrupted thought from the surface of your mental mirror and it will shine out as brightly as if it had never been covered by a temporary mist.[10]

Synoptically expressed and applied to the microcosm Chu-Hsi's system will be as follows:—

{Force-Element = Original Nature of Man.
Different Human Characters.
{Male-Principle  }Wood-quality.
}Fire- "
{Matter-Element                              }Earth-"
Dispositions latent in Matter.

Such is, in its outline, Chu-Hsi's view, which received the sanction of the ruling Tokugawa family. But it was not without its opponents in Japan as well as in China. Already in his own time, Lu-Shang-Shan (b. 1140 A.D.) maintained, in opposition to the high-sounding erudition of Chu-Hsi, that the purification of the heart was the first and main point of study.[11] The same protest was more systematically urged against it by his great follower, Wang Yang-ming (1472-1528 A.D.), who found warm and able admirers in Japan in such scholars as Nakae Tôju (1603-1678), Kumazawa Hanzan (1619-1691), and Oshio Chûsai (1794-1837). Among other great opponents of the orthodox philosophy, such names as Itô Jinsai (1625-1706) and his son Tôgai (1670-1736), Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714), Ogyû Sorai (1666-1728), are to be mentioned. These scholars, getting their fundamental ideas from other Chinese thinkers, and eager to remain faithful to the true spirit of Confucianism itself, pointed out many inconsistencies in Chu-Hsi's theory, and were of the opinion that more real good was to be achieved in proceeding straight to action under the guidance of conscience which was heaven and all, than in indulging in idle talk about the subtlety of human nature.

The philosophy of Chu-Hsi, although he calls himself the true exponent of Confucianism, is not at all Confucian. It is greatly indebted to Buddhism and Taoism, or better, Laoism, that is to say, to the philosophy originated by Lao-tze (b. 604 B.C.), one of the greatest thinkers that China has ever produced. Since Laoism, through the wonderful Tao-teh-king, a small book by Lao-tze himself, but especially through Chwang-tze, a work in ten books by his famous follower Chwang-chow, has exercised considerable influence on our thought for twelve centuries, a word about it may not be out of place before we go on to consider the doctrine of Shâkya-muni.

In Lao-tze we find the perfect opposite of Confucius, both in the turn of his mind and in his views and methods of saving the world. Lao-tze endeavoured to reform humanity by warning them to cast off all human artifice and to return to nature. This may be taken as the whole tenor of his doctrine: Do not try to do anything with your petty will, because it is the way to hinder and spoil the spontaneous growth of the true virtue that permeates the universe. To follow Nature's dictates, while helping it to develop itself, is the very course sanctioned and followed by all the sages worthy of the name. Make away with your 'Ego' and learn to value simplicity and humiliation; for in total 'altruism' exists the completion of self, and in humble contentment and yielding pliancy are to be found real grandeur and true strength. Under the title 'Dimming Radiance' he says:[12]

'Heaven endures and earth is lasting. And why can heaven and earth endure and be lasting? Because they do not live for themselves. On that account can they endure.

'Therefore the True Man puts his person behind and his person comes to the front. He surrenders his person and his person is preserved. Is it not because he seeks not his own? For that reason he accomplishes his own.'

Again we hear him 'Discoursing on Virtue':—

'Superior virtue is non-virtue. Therefore it has Virtue. Inferior virtue never loses sight of virtue. Therefore it has no virtue. Superior virtue is non-assertive and without pretension. Inferior virtue asserts and makes pretensions.'

He talks about 'Returning to Simplicity':

'Quit the so-called saintliness; leave the so-called wisdom alone; and the people's gain will be increased by a hundredfold.

`Abandon the so-called mercy; put away the so-called righteousness; and the people will return to filial devotion and paternal love.

`Abandon your scheming; put away your devices; and thieves and robbers will no longer exist.'

Such is the general purport of the doctrine expounded by Lao-tze. It is well to remember that this doctrine, which we may call for distinction's sake Laoism, has intrinsically very little to do with that form of belief now so prevalent among the Chinese, and which is known under the name of Taoism. Although this name itself is derived from Lao-tze's own word Tao, meaning Reason or True Path, and although the followers of Taoism see in the great philosopher its first revealer, it is in all probability nothing more than a new aspect and new appellation assumed by that aboriginal Chinese cult which was based on nature- and ancestor-worship. Ever since their appearance in history the Chinese have had their belief in Shang-ti, in spirits, and in natural agencies. This cult found, at an early date, in the mystic interpretation and solution of life as expressed by Lao-tze and his followers, the means of fresh development. The philosophical ideas of these thinkers were not properly understood, and words and phrases mostly metaphorical were construed in such a manner that they came to mean something quite different from what the original writers wished to suggest. Such an idea, for instance, as the deathlessness of a True Man by virtue of his incorporation with the grand Truth Tao that pervades Heaven and Earth, breathing in the eternity of the universe, was easily misinterpreted in a very matter-of-fact manner, e.g., anybody who realised Tao could then enjoy the much-wished-for freedom from actual death. You see how easy it is for an ordinary mind to pass from one to the other when it hears Chwang-tze say:—

'Fire cannot burn him who is perfect in virtue, nor water drown him; neither cold nor heat can affect him injuriously; neither bird nor beast can hurt him.'[13]

Or again:—

'Though heaven and earth were to be overturned and fall, they would occasion him no loss. His judgment is fixed on that in which there is no element of falsehood, and while other things change, he changes not.'[14]

We want no great flight of imagination therefore to follow the traces of development of the present form of Taoism with its occult aspects. The eternity attributed to a True Man in its Laoist sense begot the idea of a deathless man in flesh and blood endowed with all kinds of supernatural powers. This in turn produced the notion that these superhuman beings knew some secret means to preserve their life and could work other wonders. Herbalism, alchemy, geomancy, and other magic arts owe their origin to this fountain-head of primitive superstition.

There is little room for reasonable doubt that in this way Taoism, although the name itself was of later development, has been in its main features the religion of China par excellence from the very dawn of its history. It has from the beginning found a congenial soil in the heart of the Chinese people, who still continue to embrace the cult with great enthusiasm, and in whose helpless credulity the Taoist priests of to-day, borrowing much help from the occult sides of Buddhism and Hinduism, still find an easy prey for their necromantic arts.

Not so with Laoism. One may well wonder how such an uncongenial doctrine ever came to spring from the soil of materialistic China. Some suggest that Lao-tze was a Brahman, and not a Chinese at all. Another explanation of this anomaly is to be found in the attempted division of the whole Chinese civilisation into two geographically distinct groups, the rigid Northern and the more romantic Southern types: Laoism belonging to the latter, while Confucianism belongs to the former. In any case, the resemblance in many respects between the doctrine introduced by Lao-tze and the higher form of Buddhism is very striking. Let me take this opportunity of saying something about the religion of Shâkya-muni, which has occupied our mind and heart for the past fifteen centuries.

But, first of all, let me say that I am not unaware of the absurdity of trying to give you anything like a fair idea of a many-sided and extremely complicated system of human belief such as Buddhism in the short space which is at my disposal. Very far from it. Even a brief summary of its main features would take an able speaker at least a couple of hours. So I humbly confine myself to giving you some hints on the belief, about which most of you, I presume, have already had occasion to hear something, the religion which took its origin among the people who claim their descent from the same Aryan stock to which you yourselves belong. Those who would care to read about it will find an excellent supply of knowledge in two little books called Buddhism and Buddhism in China, written respectively by Dr. Rhys Davids and the late Rev. S. Beal, not to mention the late Sir Monier Williams' standard work. A perusal of the Rev. A. Lloyd's paper read before the Asiatic Society of Japan in 1894, entitled 'Developments of Japanese Buddhism,' is very desirable. There are also two chapters devoted to this doctrine in Lafcadio Hearn's last work, Japan. This enumeration might almost exempt me from making any attempt to describe it myself.

Buddhism has, to begin with, two distinct forms, philosophical and popular, which may practically be taken as two different religions. Philosophical Buddhism—or at least the truest form of it—is a system based upon the recognition of the utter impermanency of the phenomenal world in all its forms and states. It believes in no God or gods whatever as a personal motive power. The only thing eternal is matter, or essence of matter, with the Karma, or Law of cause and effect, dwelling incorporated in it. Through the never-ceasing working of this law innumerable forms of existence develop, which, notwithstanding the appearance of stability they temporarily assume, are, in consequence of the action and reaction of the very law to which they owe their existence, constantly subject to everlasting changes. Constancy is nowhere to be found in this universe of phenomena. It is therefore an act of unspeakable ignorance on the part of human beings, themselves a product of the immutable Karma, to attach a constant value to this dreamy world and allow themselves to lose their mental harmony in the quest of shadowy desires and of their shadowy satisfaction, thus plunging themselves into the boundless sea of misery. True salvation is to be sought in the complete negation of egoism and in the unconditional absorption of ourselves in the fundamental law of the universe. Shâkya-muni was no more than one of a series of teachers whose mission it is to show us how to get rid of our fatal ignorance of this grand truth, an ignorance which is at the root of all the discontent and misery of our selfish existence.

Very different from this is the aspect assumed by the popular form of Buddhism. This is a system built up on the blind worship of personified psychic phenomena, originally meant merely as convenient symbols for their better contemplation, and in the transformation of the human teachers of truth into so many personal gods. This is the reason why Buddhism, so essentially atheistic, has come to be regarded by the ordinary Christian mind as polytheism, or as a degraded form of idolatry.

Now, in all the many sects of Buddhism which have been planted in the soil of Japan since the middle of the seventh century, some of which soon withered, while others took deep root and grew new branches, these two phases have always been recognised and utilised in their proper sphere as means of salvation. For the populace there was the lower Buddhism, while the more elevated classes found satisfaction in the higher form and in an explanation of that True Path which lies hidden beneath the complicated symbolic system.

Of the sects which have exercised great influence on Japanese mentality, the following are specially to be mentioned: the Tendai, the Shingon, the Zen, the Hokke, and the Jodo, with its offspring the Ikkô sect. Each of these chose its own means of reaching enlightenment from among those indicated by Shâkya-muni, but did not on that account entirely reject the means of salvation preferred by the others. Some give long lists of categories and antitheses, and seek to define the truth with a more than Aristotelian precision of detail, while others think it advisable to realise it by dint of faith alone. But among these means of salvation the practice advocated by the Zen sect is worthy of special consideration in this place, as it has exercised great influence in the formation of the Japanese spirit. Zen means 'abstraction,' standing for the Sanskrit Dhyâna. It is one of the six means of arriving at Nirvâna, namely, (1) charity; (2) morality; (3) patience; (4) energy; (5) contemplation; and (6) wisdom. This practice, which dates from a time anterior to Shâkya himself, consists of an 'abstract contemplation,' intended to destroy all attachment to existence in thought and wish. From the earliest time Buddhists taught four different degrees of abstract contemplation by which the mind frees itself from all subjective and objective trammels, until it reaches a state of absolute indifference or self-annihilation of thought, perception, and will.[15]

You might perhaps wonder how a method so utterly unpractical and speculative as that of trying to arrive at final enlightenment by pure contemplation could ever have taken root in Japan, among a people who, generally speaking, have never troubled themselves much about things apart from their actual and immediate use. An explanation of this is not far to seek. Eisai, the founder of the Rinzai school, the branch of the Contemplative sect first established on our soil, came back to Japan from his second visit to China in 1192 A.D.[16] This was the time when the short-lived rule of the Minamoto clan (1186-1219) was nearing the end of its real supremacy. Only fifteen years before that the world had seen the downfall of another mighty clan. The battle of Dannoura put an end to the Heike ascendancy after an incessant series of desperate battles extending over a century, giving our soldier-like qualities enough occasion for an excellent schooling. The whole country during this period had been under the raging sway of Mars, who swept with his fiery breath the blossoms of human prosperity, and the people high and low were obliged to recognise the folly of clinging to shadowy desires and to learn the urgent necessity for facing every emergency with something akin to indifference. To pass from glowing life into the cold grasp of death with a smile, to meet the hardest decrees of fate with the resolute calm of stoic fortitude, was the quality demanded of every man and woman in that stormy age. In the meanwhile, different military clans had been forming themselves in different parts of Japan and preparing to wage an endless series of furious battles against one another. In half a century too came the one solitary invasion of our whole history when a foreign power dared to threaten us with destruction. The mighty Kublei, grandson of the great Genghis Khan, haughty with his resistless army, whose devastating intrepidity taught even Europe to tremble at the mention of his name, despatched an embassy to the Japanese court to demand the subjection of the country. The message was referred to Kamakura, then the seat of the Hôjô regency, and was of course indignantly dismissed. Enraged at this, Kublei equipped a large number of vessels with the choicest soldiers China could furnish. The invading force was successful at first, and committed massacres in Iki and Tsushima, islands lying between Corea and Japan. The position was menacing; even the steel nerves of the trained Samurai felt that strange thrill a patriot knows. Shinto priests and Buddhist monks were equally busy at their prayers. A new embassy came from the threatening Mongol leader. The imperious ambassadors were taken to Kamakura, to be put to death as an unmistakable sign of contemptuous refusal. A tremendous Chinese fleet gathered in the boisterous bay of Genkai in the summer of 1281. At last the evening came with the ominous glow on the horizon that foretells an approaching storm. It was the plan of the conquering army victoriously to land the next morning on the holy soil of Kyûshû. But during this critical night a fearful typhoon, known to this day as the 'Divine Storm,' arose, breaking the jet-black sky with its tremendous roar of thunder and bathing the glittering armour of our soldiers guarding the coastline in white flashes of dazzling light. The very heaven and earth shook before the mighty anger of nature. The result was that the dawn of the next morning saw the whole fleet of the proud Yuan, that had darkened the water for miles, swept completely away into the bottomless sea of Genkai, to the great relief of the horror-stricken populace, and to the unspeakable disappointment of our determined soldiers. Out of the hundred thousand warriors who manned the invading ships, only three are recorded to have survived the destruction to tell the dismal tale to their crestfallen great Khan!

Then after a short interval of a score of peaceful years, Japan was plunged again into another series of internal disturbances, from which she can hardly be said to have emerged until the beginning of the seventeenth century, when order and rest were brought back by the able hand of Tokugawa Iyeyasu. During all these troublous days, the original Contemplative sect, paralleled soon after its establishment in Japan by a new school called Sôtô, as it was again supplemented by another, the Ôbaku school, five centuries afterwards, found ample material to propagate its special method of enlightenment. This sect, which drew its patrons from the ruling classes of Japan, was unanimously looked up to as best calculated to impart the secret power of perfect self-control and undisturbable peace of mind. It must be remembered that the ultimate riddance in the Buddhist sense, the entrance into cold Nirvâna, was not what our practical mind wanted to realise. It was the stoic indifference, enabling man to meet after a moment's thought, or almost instinctively, any hardships that human life might impose, that had brought about its otherwise strange popularity.

Another charm it offered to the people of the illiterate Middle Ages, when they had to attend to other things than a leisurely pursuit of literature, was its systematic neglect of book-learning. Truth was to be directly read from heart to heart. The intervention of words and writing was regarded as a hindrance to its true understanding. A rudimentary symbolism expressed by gestures was all that a Zen priest really relied upon for the communication of the doctrine. Everybody with a heart to feel and a mind to understand needed nothing further to begin and finish his quest of the desired freedom from life's everlasting torments.

The self-control that enables us not to betray our inner feeling through a change in our expression, the measured steps with which we are taught to walk into the hideous jaws of death—in short, all those qualities which make a present Japanese of truly Japanese type look strange, if not queer, to your eyes, are in a most marked degree a product of that direct or indirect influence on our past mentality which was exercised by the Buddhist doctrine of Dhyâna taught by the Zen priests.

Another benefit which the Zen sect conferred on us is the healthy influence it exercised on our taste. The love of nature and the desire of purity that we had shown from the earliest days of our history, took, under the leading idea of the Contemplative sect, a new development, and began to show that serene dislike of loudness of form and colour. That apparent simplicity with a fulness of meaning behind it, like a Dhyâna symbol itself, which we find so pervadingly manifested in our works of art, especially in those of the Ashikaga period (1400-1600 A.D.), is certainly to be counted among the most valuable results which the Zen doctrine quickened us to produce.

In short, so far-reaching is the influence of the Contemplative sect on the formation of the Japanese spirit as you find it at present, that an adequate interpretation of its manifestations would be out of the question unless based on a careful study of this branch of Buddhism. So long as the Zen sect is not duly considered, the whole set of phenomena peculiar to Japan—from the all-pervading laconism to the hara-kiri—will remain a sealed book.

This fact is my excuse for having detained you for so long on the subject.

I now pass on to the consideration of our own native cult.

Shinto, or the 'Path of the Gods,' is the name by which we distinguish the body of our national belief from Buddhism, Christianity, or any other form of religion. It is remarkable that this appellation, like Nippon (which corresponds to your word Japan), is no purely Japanese term. Buddhism is called Buppô (from Butsu, Buddha, and , doctrine) or Bukkyô (kyô, teaching); Confucianism is known as Jukyô (Ju, literati); and both terms are taken from the Chinese. In keeping with these we have Shinto (Shin, deity, and to, way). This state of things in some measure explains the rather unstable condition in which Buddhism on its first arrival found our national cult. It has ever since remained in its main aspects nothing more than a form of ancestor-worship based on the central belief in the divine origin of the imperial line. A systematised creed it never was and has never become, even if we take into consideration the attempts at its consolidation made by such scholars as Yamazaki-Ansai (1618-1682), who in the middle of the seventeenth century tried to formalise it in accordance with Chu-Hsi's philosophy, or, later still, by such eager revivalists as Hirata-Atsutane (1776-1843), etc. At the time when Shintoism had to meet its mighty foe from India, its whole mechanism was very simple. It consisted in a number of primitive rites, such as the recital of the liturgy, the offering of eatables to the departed spirits of deified ancestors, patriarchal, tribal, or national. This naïve cult was as innocent of the cunning ideas and subtle formalisms of the rival creed as its shrines were free from the decorations and equipments of an Indian temple. So, although at the start Buddhism met with some obstinate resistance at the hand of the Shintoists, who attributed the visitations of pestilence that followed the introduction of the foreign belief to the anger of the native gods, its superiority in organisation soon overcame these difficulties; especially from the time when the great Buddhist priest Kûkai (774-835 A.D.) hit upon the ingenious but mischievous idea of solving the dilemma by the establishment of what is generally known in our history as Ryôbu-Shinto, or double-faced Shinto. According to this doctrine, a Shinto god was to be regarded as an incarnation of a corresponding Indian deity, who made his appearance in Japan through metamorphosis for Japan's better salvation—a doctrine which is no more than a clever application of the notion known in India as Nirmanakâya. This incarnation theory opened a new era in the history of the expansion of Buddhism in Japan, extending over a period of eleven centuries, during which Shintoism was placed in a very awkward position. It was at last restored to its original purity at the beginning of the present Meiji period, and that only after a century of determined endeavour on the part of native Shintoist scholars.

From these words you might perhaps conclude that Buddhism succeeded in supplanting the native cult, at least for more than a thousand years. But, strange to say, if we judge the case not by outward appearances, but by the religious conviction that lurks in the depth of the heart, we cannot but recognise the undeniable fact that no real conversion has ever been achieved during the past eleven centuries by the doctrine of Buddha. Our actual self, notwithstanding the different clothes we have put on has ever remained true in its spirit to our native cult. Speaking generally, we are still Shintoists to this day—Buddhists, Christians, and all—so long as we are born Japanese. This might sound to you somewhat paradoxical. Here is the explanation:—

For an average Japanese mind in present Japan, thanks to the ancestor-worship practised consciously or unconsciously from time immemorial, it is not altogether easy to imagine the spirit of the deceased, if it believes in one at all, to be something different and distant from our actual living self. The departed, although invisible, are thought to be leading their ethereal life in the same world in much the same state as that to which they had been accustomed while on earth. Like the little child so touchingly described by Wordsworth, we cannot see why we should not count the so-called dead still among the existing. The difference between the two is that of tangibility or visibility, but nothing more.

The raison d'être of this illusive notion is, of course, not far to seek. Any book on anthropology or ethnology would tell you how sleep, trance, dream, hallucination, reflection in still water, etc., help to build up the spirit-world in the untaught mind of primitive man. Yet it must be remembered that these origins have led to something far higher, to something of real value to our nation, and to something which is a moral force in our daily lives that may well be compared to what is efficacious in other creeds. Notice the fact that Buddhism from the moment of its introduction in the sixth century after Christ to this very day has on the whole remained the religion, so to say, of night and gloomy death, while Shintoism has always retained its firm hold on the popular mind as the cult, if I might so express it, of daylight and the living dead. From the very dawn of our history we read of patriarchs, chieftains, and national heroes deified and worshipped as so many guardian spirits of families, of clans, or of the country. Nor has this process of deification come to an end yet, even in this age of airship and submarine boat. We continue to erect shrines to men of merit. This may look very strange to you, but is not your poet Swinburne right when he sings—

'Whoso takes the world's life on him and his own
lays down,
He, dying so, lives.'

Might not these lines explain, when duly extended, the subtle feeling that lurks behind our apparently incomprehensible custom of speaking with the departed over the altar? The present deification, is, like your custom of erecting monuments to men of merit, a way of making the best part of a man's career legible to the coming generations. The numberless shrines you now find scattered all over Japan are only so many chapters written in unmistakable characters of the lessons our beloved and revered heroes and good men have left us for our edification and amelioration. It is in the sunny space within the simple railing of these Shinto shrines, where the smiling presence of the patron spirit of a deified forefather or a great man is so clearly felt, that our childhood has played for tens of centuries its games of innocent joy. Monthly and yearly festivals are observed within the divine enclosure of a guardian god, when a whole community under his protection let themselves go in good-natured laughter and gleeful mirth before the favouring eyes of their divine patron. How different is this jovial feeling from that gloomy sensation with which we approach a Buddhist temple, recalling death and the misery of life from every corner of its mysterious interior. Such seriousness has never been congenial to the gay Japanese mind with its strong love of openness and light. Until death stares us right in the face, we do not care to be religious in the ordinary sense of the term. True, we say and think that we believe in death, but all the while this so-called death is nothing else than a new life in this present world of ours led in a supernatural way. For instance, when the father of a Japanese family begins a journey of any length, the raised part of his room will be made sacred to his memory during his temporary absence; his family will gather in front of it and think of him, expressing their devotion and love in words and gifts in kind. In the hundreds of thousands of families that have some one or other of their members fighting for the nation in this dreadful war with Russia, there will not be even one solitary house where the mother, wife, or sister is not practising this simple rite of endearment for the beloved and absent member of the family. And if he die on the field, the mental attitude of the poor bereaved towards the never-returning does not show any substantial difference. The temporarily departed will now be regarded as the forever departed, but not as lost or passed away. His essential self is ever present, only not visible. Daily offerings and salutations continue in exactly the same way as when he was absent for a time. Even in the mind of the modern Japanese with its extremely agnostic tendencies, there is still one corner sacred to this inherited feeling. You could sooner convince an ordinary European of the non-existence of a personal God. When it gets dusk every bird knows whither to wing its way home. Even so with us all when the night of Death spreads its dark folds over our mortal mind!

But ask a modern Japanese of ordinary education in the broad daylight of life, if he believes in a God in the Christian sense; or in Buddha as the creator; or in the Shinto deities; or else in any other personal agency or agencies, as originating and presiding over the universe; and you would immediately get an answer in the negative in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. Do you ask why? First, because our school education throughout its whole course has, ever since its re-establishment thirty-five years ago, been altogether free from any teaching of a denominational nature. The ethical foundations necessary for the building up of character are imparted through an adequate commentary on the moral sayings and maxims derived mostly from Chinese classics. Secondly, because the little knowledge about natural science which we obtain at school seems to make it impossible to anchor our rational selves on anything other than an impersonal law. Thirdly, because we do not see any convincing reason why morals should be based on the teaching of a special denomination, in face of the fact that we can be upright and brave without the help of a creed with a God or deities at its other end. So, for the average mind of the educated Japanese something like modern scientific agnosticism, with a strong tendency towards the materialistic monism of recent times, is just what pleases and satisfies it most.

If not so definitely thought out, and if expressed with much less learned terminology, the thought among our educated classes as regards supernatural agencies has during the past three centuries been much the same. The Confucian warning against meddling with things supernatural, the atheistic views and hermit-like conduct of the adherents of Laoism, and the higher Buddhism, all contributed towards the consolidation of this mental attitude with a conscious or unconscious belief in the existing spirit-world. Except for the philosophy which they knew how to utilise for their practical purposes, the educated felt no charm in religion. The lower form of Buddhism with its pantheon has been held as something only for the aged and the weak. For the execution of the religious rites, at funerals or on other occasions (except in the rare instances when some families for a special reason of their own preferred the Shintoist form), we have unanimously drawn on the Buddhist priesthood, just in the same way as you go to your family doctor or attorney in case of a bodily or legal complication, knowing well that religion as we have understood it is something as much outside the pale of the layman as medicine and law.

For the proper conduct of our daily life as members of society, the body of Confucian morality resting on the tripod of loyalty, filial piety, and honesty, has been the only standard which high and low have alike recognised. These ethical ideals, when embraced by that formidable warrior caste who played such an important part in feudal Japan, form the code of unwritten morality known among us as Bushido, which means the Path of the Samurai. This last word, which has found its way into your language, is the substantival derivative from the verb samurau (to serve), and, like its English counterpart 'knight' (Old English cniht), has raised itself from its original sense of a retainer (cp. German Knecht) to the meaning in which it is now used. To be a Samurai in the true sense of the word has been the highest aspiration of a Japanese. Your term 'gentleman,' when understood in its best sense, would convey to you an approximate idea if you added a dash of soldier blood to it. Rectitude, courage, benevolence, politeness, veracity, loyalty, and a predominating sense of honour—these are the chief colours with which a novelist in the days of yore used to paint an ideal Samurai; and his list of desirable qualities was not considered complete without a well-developed body and an expression of the face that was manly but in no way brutal. No special stress was at first laid on the cultivation of thinking power and book-learning, though they were not altogether discouraged; it was thought that these accomplishments might develop other qualities detrimental to the principal character, such as sophistry or pedantry. To have good sense enough to keep his name honourable, and to act instead of talking cleverly, was the chief ambition of a Samurai.

But this view gradually became obscured. It lost its fearful rigidity in course of time, as the world became more and more sure of a lasting peace. Literature and music have gradually added softening touches to its somewhat brusque features.

It must, however, be always remembered that the keynote of Bushido was from the very beginning an indomitable sense of honour. This was all in all to the mind of the Samurai, whose sword at his side reminded him at every movement of the importance of his good name. The care with which he preserved it reached in some cases to a pathetic extreme; he preferred, for example, an instant suicide to a reputation on which doubt had been cast, however falsely. The very custom of seppuku (better known as hara-kiri), a form of suicide not known in early Japan,[17] is an outcome of this love of an unstained name, originating, in my opinion, in the metaphorical use of the word hara (abdomen), which was the supposed organ for the begetting of ideas. In consequence of this curious localisation of the thinking faculty, the word hara came to denote at the same time intention or idea. Therefore, in cutting open (kiru) his abdomen, a person whose motives had come to be suspected meant to show that his inside was free from any trace of ideas not worthy of a Samurai. This explanation is, I think, amply sustained by the constant use to this very day of the word hara in the sense of one's ideas.

So Bushido, as you will now see, was itself but a manifestation of those same forces already at work in the formation of Japanese thought, like Buddhism, Confucianism, etc. But as it has played a most important part in the development of modern Japan, I thought it more proper to consider it as an independent factor in the history of our civilisation. Had it not been for this all-daring spirit of Bushido, Japan would never have been able to make the gigantic progress which she has been achieving in these last forty years. As soon as our ports were flung open to the reception of Western culture, Samurai, now deeply conscious of their new mission, took leave of those stern but faithful friends, their beloved swords, not without much reluctance, even as did Sir Bedivere, in order to take up the more peaceful pen, which they were determined to wield with the same knightly spirit. It is, in short, Bushido that has urged our Japan on for the last three centuries, and will continue to urge her on, on forever, onward to her ideals of the true, the good, and the beautiful. Look to the spot where every Japanese sabre and every Japanese bayonet is at present pointing with its icy edge of determined patriotism in the dreary fields of Manchuria, or think of the intrepid heroes on our men-of-war and our torpedo-boats amid blinding snowstorms and the glare of hostile searchlights, and your eyes will invariably end at the magic Path of the Samurai.

Having thus far followed my enumeration of the various factors in the formation of the present thought in Japan, some of you might perhaps be curious to know what Christianity has contributed towards the general stock of modern Japanese mentality.

It must surely have exercised a very healthy influence on our mind since its re-introduction at the beginning of the present Meiji period. Some have indeed gone so far as to say that we owe the whole success we have up to now achieved in this remarkable war to the holy inspiration we drew from the teaching of Jesus Christ.

I indorse this opinion to its full extent, but only if we are to understand by His teaching that whole body of truth and love which are of the essence of Christianity, and which we used in former days to call by other names, such as Bushido, Confucianism, etc. But if you insist on having it understood in a narrow sectarian sense, with a personal God and rigid formalities as its main features, then I should say that I cannot agree with you, for this Christianity occupies rather an awkward place in our Japanese mind, finding itself somewhere between the national worship of the living dead, and modern agnosticism, or scientific monism. In our earlier fishery for new knowledge in the Western seas, fish other than those fit for our table were caught and dressed along with some really nourishing; the result was disastrous, and we gradually came to learn more caution than at first. The Roman Catholics, more enthusiastic than discreet, committed wholesale outrages on our harmless ways of faith in the early days of the seventeenth century, which did much to leave in bad repute the creed of Jesus Christ. And since the prohibition against Christianity was removed, many a missionary has been so particular about the plate in which the truth is served as to make us doubt, with reason, if that be the spirit of the immortal Teacher. The truth and poetry that breathe in your Gospels have been too often paraphrased in the senseless prose of mere formalism. Otherwise Christianity would have rendered us better help in our eternal march towards the ideal emancipation.

There remains still one highly important thing to be considered as a formative element of the Japanese spirit. I mean the landscape and the physical aspects of Japan in general.

It is well known that an intimate connection exists between the mind and the nature which surrounds it. A moment's consideration of the development of Hellenic sculpture and of the Greek climate, or of the Teutonic mythology and the physical condition of Northern Europe, will bring conviction on that point. Is not the effect of the blue sky on Italian painting, and the influence of the dusky heaven on the, pictorial art of the Netherlands, clearly traceable in the productions of the old masters? A study of London psychology at the present moment will never be complete without special chapters on your open spaces and your fogs.

In order to convey anything like an adequate idea of the physical aspects of Japan from the geographical and meteorological points of view, it would be necessary to furnish a detailed account of the country, with a long list of statistical tables and the ample help of lantern slides. But on this occasion I must be content with naming some of the typical features of our surroundings.

Japan, as you know, is a long and narrow series of islands, stretching from frigid Kamchatka in the north to half-tropical Formosa in the south. The whole country is mountainous, with comparatively little flat land, and is perforated with a great number of volcanoes, the active ones alone numbering above fifty at present. With this is connected the annoying frequency of earthquakes, and the agreeable abundance of thermal springs—two phenomena that cannot remain without effect on the people's character.

There are two other natural agencies to be mentioned in this connection. One is the Kuro-shio, or Black Stream, so called on account of the deep black colour which the ocean current displays in cloudy weather. This warm ocean river, having a temperature of 27° centigrade in summer, begins its course in the tropical regions near the Philippine Islands, and on reaching the southern isles is divided by them into two unequal parts. The greater portion of it skirts the Japanese islands on their eastern coast, imparting to them that warm and moist atmosphere which is one source of the fertility of the soil and the beauty of the vegetation. The effect of the Kuro-shio upon the climate and productions of the lands along which it flows may be fairly compared with that of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean, which in situation, direction, and volume it resembles. To this most noticeable cause of the climatic condition of the Japanese islands must be added another agency closely related to it in its effect. Our archipelago lies in the region of the northeast monsoon, which affects in a marked degree the climate of all those parts over which the winds blow. Although the same monsoon blows over the eastern countries of the Asiatic continent, the insular character of Japan, and the proximity of the above-mentioned warm current on both sides of the islands, give to the winds which prevail a character they do not possess on the continent.

Although the effect of the chill and frost of the northern part of Japan, with its heavy snowfall and covered sky, cannot be without its depressing influence on human nature in that part of the island, this has not played any serious role in the formation of the Japanese character as a whole. It is only at a rather recent date that the northern provinces began to contribute their share to the general progress of the country. This can very easily be explained by the gradual advance of Japanese civilisation from the southwest to the northeast. Until comparatively lately the colder region of Japan north of the 37th degree of latitude has remained very nearly inactive in our history. It is almost exclusively in the more sunny south, extending down to the 31st degree, that the main activity of the Japanese mind and hand has been shown. And the effect is the sunniness of character and rather hot temperament which we, as a whole, share in a marked degree with the southern Europeans, as contrasted with the somewhat gloomy calm and deliberation noticed both among oriental and occidental northerners.

Notwithstanding the comparatively high amount of rainfall, the fact remains that as a nation we have spent most of our life under the serene canopy of blue sky characteristic of a volcanic country. Mountains, graceful rather than sublime, and fertile plains with rich verdure, its beauties changing slowly from the white blossoms of spring to the crimson leaves of autumn, have afforded us many welcome sights to rest our eyes upon; while the azure stretch of water, broken agreeably by scattered isles, washes to-day as it did in the days of the gods the white shore, rendered conspicuous by the everlasting green of the pine trees, which skirts the Land of the Rising Sun.

The winter, though it begins its dreary course with a short period of warm days known as the Little Spring, is of course not without its bleak mornings with cutting winds and icy wreaths. But the fact that even as far north as Tôkyô no elaborate system of warming rooms is at all developed, and that the occasional falling of snow is hailed even by aged men of letters, and still more by the numerous poetasters, as a fit occasion for a pedestrian excursion to some neighboring localities for a better appreciation of the silvery world, serves to show how mild the cold is in south Japan.

A people on whom the surrounding nature always smiles so indulgently can be little expected to be driven to turn their thoughts in the direction of their own self, and thus to develop such a strong sense of individuality as characterises the rigid northerners; nor are the nations panting under a scorching sun likely to share our friendly feelings towards nature, for with them Father Sun is too rigorous to allow a peaceful enjoyment of his works.

All through the four seasons, which are almost too varied even for a Thomson's pen, eventful with the constant calls of one after another of our flowery visitors—beginning with the noble plum that peeps with its tiny yellowish-white eyes from under the spotless repose of fleecy snow, and ending in the gay variety of the chrysanthemum—we have too many allurements from outside not to leap into the widespread arms of Mother Nature and dream away our simple, our contented life in her lap. True, there also are in Japan many instances of broken hearts seeking their final rest under the green turf of an untimely grave, or else in the grey mantle of the Buddhist monkhood. But in them, again, we see the characteristic determination and action of a Japanese at work. To indulge in Hamlet-like musing, deep in the grand doubt and sublime melancholy of the never-slumbering question 'To be, or not to be?' is something, so to say, too damp to occur in the sunny thought of our open-air life.

If asked to name the most conspicuous of those physical phenomena which have exercised so great an influence on our mind, no Japanese will hesitate to mention our most beloved Fuji-no-yama. This is the highest and the most beautiful of all the great mountains in the main group of the Japanese islands. Gracefully conical in shape, lifting its snowclad head against a serene background 12,365 feet above the sea, it has from the earliest time been the object of unceasing admiration for the surrounding thirteen provinces, and where it stands out of the reach of the naked eye, winged words from the poet's lyre, and flying leaves from the artist's brush, have carried its never-tiring praise to all the nooks and corners of the Land of the Gods.

Here is one of the earliest odes to Fujiyama, contained in a collection of lyrical poems called Man-yô-shû, or 'Myriad Leaves,' by Prince Moroe (died A.D. 757), somewhere in the first half of the eighth century:—

There on the border, where the land of Kahi
Doth touch the frontier of Suruga's land,
A beauteous province stretched on either hand,
See Fujiyama rear his head on high!

The clouds of heav'n in rev'rent wonder pause,
Nor may the birds those giddy heights essay,
Where melt thy snows amid thy fires away,
Or thy fierce fires lie quench'd beneath thy snows.

What name might fitly tell, what accents sing,
Thy awful, godlike grandeur? 'Tis thy breast
That holdeth Narusaha's flood at rest,
Thy side whence Fujikaha's waters spring.

Great Fujiyama, tow'ring to the sky!
A treasure art thou giv'n to mortal man,
A god-protector, watching o'er Japan:
On thee for ever let me feast mine eye!

This now extinct volcano, besides inspiring poetical efforts, has been an inexhaustible subject for our pictorial art; it is enough to mention the famous sets of colour prints, representing the thirty-six or the hundred aspects of the favourite mountain, by Hiroshige, Hokusai, etc. The groups of rural pilgrims that annually swarm from all parts of Japan during the two hottest months of the year to pay their pious visit to the Holy Mount Fuji, return to their respective villages deeply inspired with a feeling of reverence and of love for the wonders and beauty of the remarkable dawn they witnessed from its summit.

There is many another towering mountain with its set of pilgrims, but none can vie with Fujiyama for majestic grace. More beautiful than sublime, more serene than imposing, it has been from time immemorial a silent influence on the Japanese character. Who would deny that it has reflected in its serenity and grace as seen on a bright day all the ideals of the Japanese mind?

Another favourite emblem of our spirit is the cherry blossom. The cherry tree, which we cultivate, not for its fruit, but for the annual tribute of a branchful of its flowers, has done much, especially in the development of the gay side of our character. Its blossoms are void of that sweet depth of scent your rose possesses, or the calm repose that characterizes China's emblematic peony. A sunny gaiety and a readiness to scatter their heart-shaped petals with a Samurai's indifference to death are what make them so dear to our simple and determined view of life. There is an ode known to every Japanese by the great Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801 A.D.) which runs as follows:—

Shikishima no
Yamata-gokoro wo
Hito toha ba,
Asahi ni nihofu

(Should any one ask me what the spirit of Japan is like, I would point to the blossoms of the wild cherry tree bathing in the beams of the morning sun.)

These words, laconic as they are, represent, in my opinion, the fundamental truth about the Japanese mentality—its weak places as well as its strength. They give an incomparable key to the proper understanding of the whole people, whose ideal it has ever been to live and to die like the cherry blossoms, beneath which they have these tens of centuries spent their happiest hours every spring.

The mention of a Japanese poem gives me an opportunity to say something about Japanese poetry. Like other early people, our forefathers in archaic time liked to express their thoughts in a measured form of language. The whole structure of the tongue being naturally melodious, on account of its consisting of open syllables with clear and sonorous vowels and little of the harsh consonantal elements in them, the number of syllables in a line has been almost the only feature that distinguished our poetry from ordinary prose composition. The taste for a lengthened form of poems had lost ground early, and already at the end of the ninth century after Christ the epigrammatic form exemplified above, consisting of thirty-one syllables, established itself as the ordinary type of the Japanese odes.

This form subdivides itself into two parts, viz., the upper half containing three lines of five, seven, and again five syllables, and the lower half consisting of two lines of seven syllables each. This simplicity has made it impossible to express in it anything more than a pithy appeal to our lyrical nature; epic poetry in the strict sense of the word has never been developed by us.

But it must be noticed that it is this simplicity of form of our poetical expression that has put it within the reach of almost everybody. To all of us without distinction of class and sex has been accorded the sacred pleasure of satisfying and thus developing our poetical nature, so long as we had a subject to sing and could count syllables up to thirty-one. The language resorted to in such a composition was at first the same as that in use in everyday life. But afterwards as succeeding forms of the vernacular gradually deviated from the classical type, a special grammar along with a special vocabulary had to be studied by the would-be poet. This was avoided, however, by the development in the sixteenth century of a popular and still shorter form of ode called Hokku, with much less strict regulations about syntax and phraseology. This ultra-short variety of Japanese poetry, consisting only of seventeen syllables, is in form the upper half of the regular poem. Here is an example:—

Asagaho ni
Tsurube torarete

Sketchy as it is, this tells us that the composer Chiyo, 'having gone to her well one morning to draw water, found that some tendrils of the convolvulus had twined themselves around the rope. As a poetess and a woman of taste, she could not bring herself to disturb the dainty blossoms. So, leaving her own well to the convolvuli, she went and begged water of a neighbor'—a pretty little vignette, surely, and expressed in five words.

This new movement, which owes its real development to a remarkable man called Bashô (1644-1649), a mystic of the Zen sect to the tip of his fingers, had an aim that was strictly practical. 'He wished to turn men's lives and thoughts in a better and a higher direction, and he employed one branch of art, namely poetry, as the vehicle for the ethical influence to whose exercise he devoted his life. The very word poetry (or haikai) came in his mouth to stand for morality. Did any of his followers transgress the code of poverty, simplicity, humility, long-suffering, he would rebuke the offender with a "This is not poetry," meaning "This is not right." His knowledge of nature and his sympathy with nature were at least as intimate as Wordsworth's, and his sympathy with all sorts and conditions of men was far more intimate; for he never isolated himself from his kind, but lived cheerfully in the world.'[18]

Now, this form of popular literature by virtue of its accessibility even to the poorest amateurs from the lowest ranks of the people, was markedly instrumental, as the now classical form of poetry had been during the Middle Ages, in the cultivation of taste and good manners among all classes of the Japanese nation. Even among the ricksha men of to-day you find many such humble poets, taking snapshots as they run along the stony path of their miserable life. I wonder if your hansom drivers are equally aspiring in this respect.

In all these phases of the development of our poetry, we notice, as one of its peculiarities, a strong inclination to the exercise of the witty side of our nature. Even if we leave out of consideration the so-called 'pillow word' (makura-kotoba), so profusely resorted to in our ancient poems, part of which were nothing but a naïve sort of jeu de mots, and the abundant use of other plays on words of later development, known as kakekotoba, jo, shûku, etc. (haikai-no-uta), it is noteworthy that poems of a comic nature found a special place in the earliest imperial collection of Japanese odes named Kokinshifu,' which was compiled in the year A.D. 908. This species has flourished ever since under the name of Kyôka, and also gave rise to a shortened form in seventeen syllables, called haikai-no-hokku. When in the hand of Bashô this latter form developed itself into something higher and more serious, the witty and satirical Senryû, also in seventeen syllables, came to take its place.

One thing to be specially noted in this connection is the introduction from China of the idea of poetic tournaments, the beauty of which consisted in the offhand and quick composition of one long series of odes by several persons sitting together, each supplying in turn either the upper half or the lower half as the case might be, the two in combination giving a poetical sense. This usage of capping verses known as renga came to be very popular, from the Court downward, as early as the thirteenth century. After a while the same practice was applied to comic poetry, thus producing the so-called haikai-no-renga, or comic linked verses. This coupling of verses gave plenty of occasion for sharpening one's wit as well as one's skill in extemporising. It is to a later attempt to express all these subtleties in the upper half of the poem composed by one person that the present kokku owed its origin. You can easily imagine the effect such an exercise produced on the popular mind. Besides the moral good which this literary pursuit has brought to the populace, it has given a fresh opportunity for the cultivation of our habit of attaching sense to apparently meaningless groups of phenomena, and our fondness of laconic utterance and symbolic representation, not to say anything about our love of nature and simplicity.

All this tends in my view to show that we Japanese have a strong liking for wit in the wider sense of the word. We try to solve a question, not by that slower but surer way of calm deliberation and untiring labour like the cool-headed Germans, but by an incandescent flash of inspiration like the hot-blooded Frenchmen. This fact is singularly preserved in the earlier sense of the now sacred word Yamato-damashî, which had not its present meaning, viz., 'the spirit of Japan' in the most elevated sense of that term, but signified 'the wit of the Japanese' as contrasted with the 'learning of the Chinese' (wakon as opposed to kansai). The word tamashî, which now expresses the idea of 'spirit,' corresponds in the compound in question to the French esprit in such combinations as homme d'esprit or jeu d'esprit.

Turning now to the consideration of other sets of phenomena, as an illustration of the Japanese character, let me tell you something about the tea-ceremony and kindred rites.

To begin with the Cha-no-e (or Cha-no-yu), or tea-meeting, this much-spoken-of art originated among the Buddhist priests, who learned to appreciate the beverage from the Chinese. Indeed, the tea-plant itself was first introduced into Japan along with the name Cha (Chinese Ch'a) from the Celestial Empire, in the tenth century after Christ. During the following centuries its cultivation and the preparation of the drink was monopolised by the priesthood, if we except the cases of a few well-to-do men of letters. This fact is gathered from the frequent mention of tea-cups offered to the emperor on the occasion of an imperial visit to a Buddhist monastery. During all this time a sense of something precious and aristocratic was attached to this aromatic beverage, which had been regarded as a kind of rare drug of strange virtue in raising depressed spirits, and even of curing certain diseases.

This high appreciation of the drink, as well as the need of ceremony in offering it to exalted personages, gradually developed in the hands of monks with plenty of leisure and a good knowledge of the high praise accorded to its virtues by the Chinese savants, into a very complicated rite as to the way of serving, and of being served with, a cup of tea. A print representing a man clad as a Buddhist priest in the act of selling the beverage in the street at a penny a cup is preserved from a date as early as the fourteenth century, showing that the drink had then come to find customers even among the common people. But the ceremony of Cha-no-e, as such, never made its way among them until many centuries after. It was at first fostered and elaborated only among the aristocracy. Already in the fifteenth century, when the luxury and extravagance of the Ashikaga Shogunate reached its zenith in the person of Yoshimasa (1435-1490), the tea-ceremony was one of the favourite pastimes of the highest classes. Yoshimasa himself was a great patron and connoisseur of the complicated rite, as well as of other branches of art, such as landscape gardening and the arrangement of flowers.

There are two different phases of the tea-ceremony, the regular course and the simplified course, known among us as the 'Great Tea' and the 'Small Tea.' In either case, it might be defined in its present form as a system of cultivating good manners as applied to daily life, with the serving and drinking of a cup of tea at its centre. The main stress is laid on ensuring outwardly a graceful carriage, and inwardly presence of mind. As with the national form of wrestling known as ju-jitsu, with its careful analysis of every push and pull down to the minutest details, so with the Cha-no-e, every move of body and limb in walking and sitting during the whole ceremony has been fully studied and worked out so as to give it the most graceful form conceivable. At the same time the calm and self-control shown by the partaker in the rite is regarded as an essential element in the performance, without which ultimate success in it will be quite impossible. So it is more a physical and moral training than a mere amusement or a simple quenching of thirst. But this original sense has not always been kept in view even by the so-called masters of the tea-ceremony, who, like your dancing-masters, are generally considered to be the men to teach us social etiquette. Thus, diverted from its original idea, the Cha-no-e is generally found to degenerate into a body of conventional and meaningless formalities, which, even in its most abbreviated form as the 'Small Tea,' is something very tiresome, if not worse. To sit à la japonaise (not à la turque, which is not considered polite) for an hour, if not for hours together, on the matted floor to see the celebration of the monotonous rite, daring to talk only little, and even then not above a whisper, in the smallest imaginable tea-room, is not what even a born Japanese of the present day can much appreciate, much less so Europeans, who would prefer being put in the stocks, unless they be themselves Cha-jin or tea-ceremonialists, that is to say, eccentrics. How to open the sliding-door; how to shut it each time; how to bring and arrange the several utensils, with their several prescribed ways of being handled, into the tea-room; how to sit down noiselessly in front of the boiling kettle which hangs over a brasier; how to open the lid of the kettle; how to put tea-powder in the cup; how to pour hot water over it; how to stir the now green water with a bamboo brush; how to give the mixture a head of foam; how and where to place the cup ready for the expecting drinker—this on the part of the person playing the host or hostess; and now on the part of the guest—how to take a sweet from the dish before him in preparation for the coming aromatic drink; how to take up the cup now given him; how to hold it with both hands; how to give it a gentle stir; how to drink it up in three sips and a half; how to wipe off the trace of the sipping left on the edge of the cup; how to turn the cup horizontally round; how to put it down within the reach of his host or hostess, etc., etc., ad infinitum—these are some of the essential items to be learned and practised. And for every one of them there is a prescribed form even to the slightest move and curve in which a finger should be bent or stretched, always in strict accordance with the attitude of other bodies in direct connection with it. The whole ceremony in its degenerated form is an aggregate of an immense number of comme il faut's, with practically no margin for personal taste. But even behind its present frigidity we cannot fail to discern the true idea and the good it has worked in past centuries. It has done a great deal of good, especially in those rough days at the end of the sixteenth century, when great warriors returning blood-stained from the field of battle learned how to bow their haughty necks in admiration of the curves of beauty, and how to listen to the silvery note of a boiling tea-kettle. They could not help their stern faces melting into a naïve smile in the serene simplicity of the tea-room, whose arrangement, true to the Zen taste to the very last detail of its structure, showed a studied avoidance of ostentation in form and colour. To this day it is always this Zen taste that rules supreme in the decoration of a Japanese house.

Visit a Japanese gentleman whose taste is not yet badly influenced by the Western love of show and symmetry in his dwelling: you will find the room and the whole arrangement free from anything of an ostentatious nature. The colour of the walls and sliding-doors will be very subdued, but not on that account gloomy. In the niche you will see one or a single set of kakemono, or pictures, at the foot of which, just in the middle of the slightly raised floor of the niche, we put some object of decoration—a sculpture, a vase with flowers, etc. These are both carefully changed in accordance with the season, or else in harmony with the ruling idea of the day, when the room is decorated in celebration of some event or guest. This rule applies to the other objects connected with the room—utensils, cushions, screens, etc.

The European way of arranging a room is, generally speaking, rather revolting to our taste. We take care not to show anything but what is absolutely necessary to make a room look agreeable, keeping all other things behind the scenes. Thus we secure to every object of art that we allow in our presence a fair opportunity of being appreciated. This is not usually the case in a European dwelling. I have very often felt less crowded in a museum or in a bazaar than in your drawing-rooms. 'You know so well how to expose to view what you have,' I have frequently had occasion to say to myself, 'but you have still much to learn from us how to hide, for exposition is, after all, a very poor means of showing.'

To return to the main point, we owe to the Cha-no-e much of the present standard of our taste, which is, in its turn, nothing more than the Zen ways of looking at things as applied to everyday life. This is no wonder, when we remember that it was in the tasteful hands of the Zen priests that the whole ceremony reached its perfection. Indeed, the word cha is a term which conveys to this day the main features of the Contemplative sect to our mind.

In connection with the tea-ceremony, there are some sister arts which have been equally effective in the proper cultivation of our taste. Landscape gardening, in which our object is to make an idealised copy of some natural scene, is an art that has been loved and practised among us for more than a thousand years, although it was not indigenous like most things Japanese. This practice of painting with tree and stone soon gave rise to another art, the miniature reproduction of a favourite natural scene on a piece of board, and this is the forerunner of the later bonkei, or the tray-landscape, and its sister bonsai, or the art of symbolising an abstract idea, such as courage, majesty, etc., by means of the growth of a dwarf tree.

The same love that we feel for a symbolic representation is also to be traced in the arrangement of flowers. The practice of preserving cut branches, generally of flowering trees, in a vase filled with water is often mentioned in our classical literature. But it was first in the sixteenth century that it assumed its present aspect, when, in conjunction with the Cha-no-e, it found a great patron in that most influential dilettante Shogun Yoshimasa. Already in his time there were a great many principles to be learned concerning the way to give the longest life and the most graceful form to the branches put in a vase, besides investing the whole composition with a symbolic meaning. Up to this day we look upon this art as very helpful for the cultivation of taste among the fair sex, who receive long courses of instruction by the generally aged masters of floral arrangement, who, along with their teaching in the treatment of plants, know how to instil ethics in their young pupils, taking the finished vase of flowers as the subject of conversation. The masters of the tea-ceremony are also well versed in arranging flowers in that simple manner which is yet full of meaning called cha-bana, or the 'Zen type of floral art.'

You see how much all these arts have contributed to the production of our taste, whose ideals are the dislike of loudness and love of symbolic representation, with a delicate feeling for the beauty of line as seen in things moving or at rest. This last quality must have been immensely augmented by the linear character of our drawing, and also by the great importance we are accustomed to attach to the shape and the strokes of the characters when we are learning to write.

All these qualities you will see exemplified in any Japanese work of art—from a large picture down to a tiny wooden carving. Take up a girl's silk dress and examine it carefully, and note how the lining is dyed and embroidered with as great, if not greater care, in order to make it harmonise in colour and design with the visible surface and add some exquisite meaning. Do not forget to look at the back when you come across a lacquered box, for it is not only the surface that receives our careful attention. And above all, you must always keep in mind that our artists think it a duty to be suggestive rather than explicit, and to leave something of their meaning to be divined by those who contemplate their works.

The time is now come to conclude my essay at an exposition of the Japanese spirit. I think I have given you occasion to see something of both the strong and the weak sides of my countrymen; for it is just where our favourable qualities lie that you will also find the corresponding weaknesses. The usual charges brought against us, that we are precocious, unpractical, frivolous, fickle, etc., are not worthy of serious attention, because they are all of them easily explained as but the attendant phenomena of the transitory age from which we are just emerging. Even the more sound accusation of our want of originality must be reconsidered in face of so many facts to the contrary, facts which show us to be at least in small things very original, almost in the French sense of that word. That we have always been ready to borrow hints from other countries is in a great measure to be explained by the consideration that we had from the very beginning the disadvantage and the advantage of having as neighbours nations with a great start in the race-course of civilisation. The cause of our being small in great things, while great in small things, can be partly found in the financial conditions of the country and in the non-individual nature of the culture we have received. These delicate questions will have to be raised again some centuries hence, when a healthy admixture of the European civilisation has been tried—a civilisation the effect of which has been, on the whole, so beneficial to our development, that we feel it a most agreeable duty gratefully to acknowledge our immense obligation to the nations of the West.


[1] The Soul of a People.

[2] Professor T. Inouye's little pamphlet, published first in French, entitled Sur le Développement des Idées Philosophiques au Japon avant l'Introduction de la Civilisation Européenne, will give you some idea of our philosophic systems. For a serious perusal, its German translation, annotated and amplified, by Dr. A. Gramatzky (Kurze Übersicht über die Entwicklung der philosophischen Ideen in Japan, Berlin, 1897), is to be preferred.

[3] Professor Milne, Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. viii. p. 82.

[4] Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. xxv.

[5] Memoirs of the Literary Department of the University of Tôkyô, vol. i.

[6] Die körperlichen Eigenschaften der Japaner, vols. xxviii. and xxxii. of Mittheilungen der Gesellschaft für die Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens.

[7] Cp. Bramsen's Japanese Chronological Tables.

[8] Legge's The Religion of China, p. 137.

[9] Cp. Rhys Davids' Buddhism, p. 144.

[10] Cp. T. Haga's Note on Japanese Schools of Philosophy. T.A.S.J., vol. xx. pt. i. p. 134.

[11] Faber's Doctrines of Confucius, p. 33.

[12] Cp. Dr. P. Carus's Lao-tze Tao-teh-king.

[13] Cp. Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxix.

[14] Cp. Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxix.

[15] E. J. Eitel's Handbook of Chinese Buddhism, p. 49.

[16] Four years later the first temple of this school was opened in Hakata under the patronship of the Emperor Gotoba.

[17] The first mention in books of a similar mode of death dates from the latter part of the twelfth century. But it does not seem that the custom became universal until a considerably later period.

[18] B.H. Chamberlain's Bashô and the Japanese Epigram, T.A.S.J., vol. xxx. pt. ii.