CHAPTER II. THE RACES AND CLIMATE OF JAPAN
WHICH is the more potent factor in building up the edifice of civilisation, race or climate? This has been a riddle repeatedly presented to various scholars of various ages, and has not yet been completely solved. The immanent force of the race deeply rooted in the principle of heredity on the one hand, and the influence of the physical milieu on the other, have been, are, and will be, ever the two important factors, coöperating in engendering any sort of civilisation, yet are they not always friendly forces, but, in a sense, rivals, competing for the ascendency. Looking back into the history of the interminable controversy as to the position of the two, and taking into consideration the fact that they are not the only factors contributing to the progress of civilisation, it would perhaps seem to be a waste of labour to try anew to solve the question. If one should endeavour to explain the respective importance of the two factors, putting due stress on each at the same time, he would then be in danger of falling into a self-contradiction or of begging the question endlessly; otherwise he must be satisfied with being the sermoniser of quite a commonplace truism! This is not, however, the place to enter into a discussion to determine the preponderant influence of either of the two, a discussion perhaps fruitful enough, but almost hopeless of arriving at a final solution. But as in recording the history of any country one should begin well at the beginning, I, too, cannot desist from starting with a description of the race and of the climate, with their relations to the history, of Japan.
Of these two factors, I need not say much about the first. It is about forty years since meteorological observations have been regularly and continuously made in this country and the results published in periodical reports, so that almost all requisite data pertaining to the climatology of Japan are at the disposal of the investigator. Assuming that the climate of Japan at present, which can be ascertained, not exhaustively perhaps, but scientifically enough, is not a widely different one from what it was in the past, there is the less need of dwelling upon the topic, so far as the scope of this book is concerned. I will content myself, therefore, with treating it very briefly.
Generally speaking, it must be admitted that the ideal climate for the progress of civilisation must not be either a very hot or a very cold one; in other words, it must be a temperate one. At the same time, it is necessarily true that, for the sake of fostering a civilisation, the climate should be stimulative, that is to say, should be variable, but not running to such extremes as to impede the vital activity of the population. When a climate is constant and has no seasonal change, that climate, however mild it be, is very enervating, and not fitted for any strenuous human exertion, physical or mental, and is therefore adverse to the onward march of civilisation. Judged by this standard, the climate of Japan is a good one. If we put aside all the recently organised or annexed parts of the Empire, that is to say, Korea, Saghalen, Formosa, Loochoo, and Hokkaido, the remaining part, that is to say, the whole of historic Japan, which includes the three principal islands, was formerly divided into sixty-six kuni or provinces, and stretches over a wide range of latitude, extending from 31°-41.5° N., so that the difference in temperature at its two extremes is very considerable. It must be remembered, however, that the difference is not so great as to necessitate totally different modes of living. In the province of Satsuma, for instance, the falling of snow can often be witnessed, while in Mutsu the temperature, in the height of summer, frequently climbs above 90° F. The southern Japanese, therefore, can settle in the northern provinces quite comfortably without changing many of their accustomed habits, and the northerners, on the other hand, can shift their abode to the island of Kyushu, with very little modification in their ways of living. This almost similar way of living throughout the whole of historic Japan, with very slight local modifications only, is the cause why the unity of the nation was accomplished comparatively easily.
As, to the seasonal changes, they occur somewhat frequently in Japan, and impart a highly stimulative quality to her climate. According to the interesting investigation made by an American climatologist, for a climate to be stimulative it is necesasry that there should be not only marked seasonal changes, but also frequent variations within each of the seasons themselves, and it is nothing but the storms which induce such important daily climatic changes. If we may accept his conclusion, then Japan may rank fairly high among the countries with the best kind of climate. For not to speak of the seasonal changes so clearly definable, in Japan, the cyclonic storms, the main cause of the daily climatic changes, occur very frequently. It can be said that no one desires to have them occur more often on this account. After all, the climate of Japan would have been almost an ideal one, if there had been less rain in the early summer, the long rainy season being evidently the chief cause of the enervating dampness. By the way, it should be remarked that the dampness which is the weakest point of the climate of Japan, not only in the summer, but throughout the whole year, is in excess more in the regions bordering on the Sea of Japan than in those facing the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea. This fact explains the historical phenomenon that the most momentous events. in Japanese history have taken place not in the former but in the later regions. If we look into the history of Europe, the Inland Sea of Japan has its counterpart in the Mediterranean, the Pacific, in the Atlantic, and the Sea of Japan in the Baltic Sea. Perhaps the attentive traveller will notice that the same greyish hue of the sea-surface can be perceived in the Sea of Japan as in the Baltic Sea, and that very sombre colour imparts the same gloomy tone to the atmosphere of the regions bordering on those two seas. It is true that many mythical legends of our country have their scenes in the coastal regions along the Sea of Japan, the so-called "Back of Japan," and, moreover, in standard of civilisation, these regions, compared with the other parts of the Empire, decidedly do not rank low. That is due, however, not to the influence of the fair climate prevailing in those parts of Japan, but to the proximity of the Asiatic continent. For, as the result of that proximity, there must have been very intimate relations between those regions of Japan and the continental tribes on the opposite shore, some of whom are sometimes supposed to have had the same origin as the Japanese. At present the influence of the climatic drawback in those districts is very evident, and it will be in the distant future that the time will arrive when the "Back of Japan" will become more thriving and enlightened than the other side of Japan facing the Pacific, unless there should be a sudden upheaval in the progress of the civilisation, and in the growth of prosperity, on the opposite continental shore.
Between northern and southern Japan, it is not very easy to distinguish what influence the climates of the two regions had on their history. It is certain that northern Japan is inferior to southern Japan in climatic conditions, if we consider the impediments put on human activity there, on account of the intense cold during the winter. It is doubtful, however, whether the backwardness of the North in the forward march of civilisation can be solely attributed to its climatic inferiority. Even in the depth of winter, the cold in the northern provinces of Hon-to cannot be said to be more unbearable and unfit for the strenuous activity of the inhabitants, than that of the Scandinavian countries or of northeastern Germany. The principal cause of the retardation of progress in northern Japan lies rather in the fact that it is a comparatively recently exploited part of the Empire. Since the beginning of historic times, the Japanese have pushed their settlements more and more toward the north, so that the population in those regions has grown denser and denser. If this process had continued with the same vigour until today, the northern provinces might have become far more populous, civilised, and prosperous, than we see them now.
Unfortunately for the North, however, just at the most critical time in its development, the attention of the nation was compelled to turn from inner colonisation to foreign relations. Besides, the subsequent acquisition of new dominions oversea made the nation still more indifferent to the exploitation of the less remunerative northern half of Hon-to. As to the climatic conditions of Hokkaido and Loochoo, it is needless to say that they are far different from that of the historic part of the Empire, and each of them needs special consideration. They have had, however, very little to do with the history of Japan. The same may also be said still more emphatically about Formosa, Saghalen, and Korea, though the influence of their climates on the destiny of future Japan will without doubt be immense; but as these regions do not come within the purview of my book, I can, without prejudice, omit further reference to them.
Together with the climate, the race stands forth as an indispensable factor in the promotion of its civilisation. Then to what race do the Japanese belong? Can all the people of Japan be homogeneously comprised under a single racial appellation, or must they be treated as an agglomeration of several different races? Are the Japanese, or the bulk at least of the Japanese, indigenous or immigrant? If the Japanese are an immigrant race, then whence did they originate, and what is the probable date of their immigration into this country? What race, if not the Japanese, are the aborigines of these islands? Questions of this kind, and others of a similar nature have stood waiting for solution these many years I But none of them has yet been completely answered, though attempts have been made not only by a large number of native investigators, professional as well as amateur, but also by not a few foreign philologists and archæologists, who were tolerably well-versed in things Japanese. Recently many interesting excavations of ancient tombs and historical sites have been made, and various remains pertaining to the old inhabitants of the islands have been submitted to the speculative scrutiny of specialists. They have served, however, rather to lead one to deeper, more obstinate, scepticism, than to shed light on those doubtful and tentative answers and indecisive controversies. It is very much to be regretted that we have no authentic record of the early immigration into Japan from the pen of a contemporaneous writer, so that we could thereby verify the interpretations assigned to the remains found in the ancient tombs. This is to be attributed to the lack of the use of written characters among the aboriginal people, as well as to the illiteracy of the early immigrants. If we had as remains of prehistoric Japan such valuable historic materials as have been excavated in Europe and Western Asia, we should have been able to deduce the history of its early ages with a tolerable degree of certainty from the remains themselves, independently of any documental evidence. Unfortunately, however, in this respect also, our prehistoric remains consist only of a few kinds of earthenware, mostly with very simple patterns on them, and some other kinds of primitive utensils of daily use, such as saddles, bridles, sword-blades, and the like. Huge tombstones are sometimes, found, but they have no such inscriptions as we see on many Greek sarcophagi, being provided only with a few unintelligible, perhaps meaningless, scratches. As to the primitive Japanese ornaments, very few historical data can be gathered from them, for they are generally beads of very simple design, and of three or four different shapes. It is quite hopeless to think that we should ever be able to dig out a single dwelling, not to speak of a whole palace, village, or town, on any Japanese historical site, since no stone, brick or other durable material was ever used in the construction of buildings. As our stock of reliable, authentic information concerning our origins is so scanty, it is at the disposal of any one to manufacture whatever hypothesis he chooses, however wild a speculation it be, and sustain it as long as he likes against an'y antagonist, not by proving it positively and convincingly, but by pointing out the impossibility of the opposing hypothesis, so that the present state of archaeological research in Japan may be summed up as an intellectual skirmish carried on by regular as well as by irregular militant scholars. Therefore, in spite of the fact that Japan now abounds in ethnologists, big and small, each fashioning some new hypothesis every day, there can be perceived only a very slow progress in the solution of the fundamental question, "Who are the Japanese?" We are almost at a loss to decide to which assertion we can most agreeably give our countenance with the least risk of receiving an immediate setback. So I shall be content to state here only those hypotheses, which may be considered comparatively safe, although they may not rise far above the level of conjecture.
The only thing virtu-ally agreed to by all investigators engaged in ethnological inquiry concerning Japan, is that the Ainu is the aboriginal race, and that the Japanese so called belongs to a stock different from the Ainu. Once for a time there prevailed a hypothesis that there was a people settled in this country previous to the coming of the Ainu, who must be therefore an immigrant race. It is said that the Ainu called this people by the name of Koropokkuru. But very little indeed is known about these supposed autochthons, except that they were very small in stature, and that this pigmy race receded and vanished before the advancing Ainu. The theory had its foundation only in some Ainu legends, and was not supported by any archæological remains, which could be attributed, not to the Ainu, but to a special pigmy race only. Much reliance, therefore, could not be placed upon this hypothesis, or rather vague suggestion, and it was speedily dropped. Still it is not yet decided whether the Ainu is the real autochthon in Japan or an immigrant from some quarter outside the Empire. Most of the Ainologists are rather inclined to the opinion that the Ainu himself is also an immigrant, though no other race prior to him had settled in Japan. But then there arises among scholars another disagreement, that about the original home of the race. Some hold the opinion that the Ainu came over to the Japanese islands from the north or the northwest, that is, from some coastal region of the Asiatic continent on the other side of the Sea of Japan. And there are not a few, too, who not only trace the origin of the race into the heart of Asia, but even go so far as to say that the Ainu came from the same cradle as the Caucasian race. Some go still further and localise the origin of the race more minutely, identifying the race as a branch of the protonordic race, akin to the modern Scandinavians. On the other hand there is a certain number of ethnologists, who entertain the opinion that the Ainu immigrated into Japan, from the south, and not from the north; but no specified locality in the south has yet been designated as the original home of the race. The last hypothesis seems, however, not to be untenable, when we consider that in historic times the Japanese drove the Ainu more and more northward, till the latter lost entirely its foothold in Hon-to, and was at last hemmed in within a small area in the island of Hokkaido and the adjacent islets. From this fact it can be imagined with some probability that the same direction of expansion might have been taken by the Ainu also in prehistoric times. The custom of tattooing, also, which can be very seldom seen among the northern Asiatic tribes, suggests to us, though faintly, the possibility of the existence of a certain kind of affinity between the Ainu and the inhabitants of the tropical regions. On the other hand, if we turn our attention to the outward features of the Ainu race, and remember that races very much resembling the Ainu are still lingering on the northeastern shores of Asia, the immigration from the northwest becomes not utterly improbable. Even the supposition that the Ainu belongs to the Aryan stock cannot be rejected as quite a worthless speculation, if the paleness of the complexion, the shape of the skull, and some other characteristic features be taken into account. In short, the ethnological uncertainty regarding the Ainu race is, in all likelihood, one of the principal causes of the obscurity concerning Japanese race-origins. Sometime in the future, I have no doubt, the racial riddle concerning the Ainu will be cleared from the haze in which it is now shrouded. Here, however, especially as I am not now treating of ethnology, I will avoid forming any hasty conclusion, and leave the question as it stands.
Whether the Ainu be autochthonous or immigrant, and whatever be the original home of the race, if immigrant at all, the hairy people, it is true, once spread all over these islands, not in Hon-to only, but even to the southern end of the island of Kyushu. This can be proved by the pottery excavated in the provinces of Satsuma and Ohsumi, and also by several geographical names in Kyushu, the etymological origin of which may best be traced to an Ainu source. As a matter of fact, the Ainu had been gradually driven northward, and the island of Kyushu wrested from their hands, before the dawn of the historical age, leaving perhaps here and there patches of tribesmen, who were too brave or not speedy enough to flee before the advancing conquerors. And those remnants, too, after a faint survival of some generations, were at last subdued, exterminated, or swallowed up among the multitudes of the surrounding victorious race or races. Thus Shikoku, the island of the four provinces, and the southwestern part of Hon-to were evacuated by the Ainu before the end of the prehistoric age. When the curtain rises on Japanese history, we find the Ainu fighting hard against the Japanese in the north of Hon-to.
We have here designated the vanquishers of the Ainu, for the sake of convenience, simply by the name of Japanese. Were they the Japanese in the same sense as the word is understood by us now? Were the vanquishers a homogeneous people, or a heterogeneous one? If the Japanese were heterogeneous, who were the first comers among them? Who were the most prominent? All these are questions very hard to answer clearly. It is sometimes argued that we had only one stock of people in Japan besides the Ainu, and that that stock is the homogeneous Japanese. This view is not avowed openly by any scholar worthy of mention, for it is an undeniable fact that in the historical ages groups of immigrants, intentional as well as unintentional, happened to drift into Japan now and then, not only from Korea and China, but from the southern islands also, though not in great numbers, and the occurrence of migrations similar to those in historic ages cannot be absolutely denied to prehistoric times. Besides, any one who pays even but cursory attention to the physical features of the Japanese can easily discern that, besides those who might be regarded as of a genuine Korean or Chinese type, there are many among them who have a physiognomy quite different from either the Korean or the Chinese, though one might be at a loss to tell exactly whether the tincture of the Malayan, Polynesian, or Melanesian blood is predominant. In face of such diversity, too clear to be neglected, none would be bold enough to assert that the Japanese has been a homogeneous race from the beginning. Strangely enough, however, this evidently untenable conception still lies at the bottom of many historical hypotheses, which will be set right in the future.
If it is most probable that the Japanese is a heterogeneous race, then what are the elements which constitute it? The results of the investigation of many scholars tend to place the home of the bulk of the forefathers of the so-called Japanese in the northeast of the Asiatic continent. Perhaps, from the purely philological point of view, this assumption may be more approximate to the truth than any other. The singular position of the Japanese language in the linguistic system of the world leaves little room for the hypothesis that the bulk of the race came from the south, though it is not at all easy to derive it from the north. In our language we have very few words in common with those now prevailing in the islands which stud the sea to the south of Japan, or in the southern part of the Asiatic continent. On the other hand, the language the most akin to ours is the Korean, though the gap between it and the Japanese language is far wider than that between the Korean and the other continental languages, such as the Mongolian and the Manchurian. If we take, therefore, linguistic similarity as the sole test of the existence of racial affinity, as many scholars are prone implicitly to do, then the bulk of the Japanese must belong to a stock which stood at some time very near to the forefathers of the Koreans, though not descended from the Koreans themselves. In other words, the Japanese race may be supposed to have had as its integral part a stock of people, who might have lived side by side with the ancestors of the Koreans for a longer time than with other kindred tribes. And if that be really so, the Japanese must have separated from the Koreans long before the end of the prehistoric ages; otherwise we cannot account for so wide a divergence of the two languages as we see at present.
It is a very dangerous feat, of course, to determine any ethnological question solely from a philological standpoint. For the sake of argument, however, let us assume for a while the hypothesis that the main element in the Japanese race came over from the northern Asiatic continent on the opposite shore of the Sea of Japan, by way, perhaps, of the peninsula of Korea and the island of Tsushima, or across the Sea of Japan. The ethnologists who adopt this view assume that the Chinese must be excluded from the above body of immigrants, the Chinese who were doubtlessly a far more advanced people even in those ages than the other neighbouring races, and were destined to become the most influential benefactors of Japanese civilisation. If regarded from the linguistic point of view only, it may be not at all unnatural thus to exclude the Chinese blood from the veins of our forefathers. In order to do so, however, it would be necessary at the same time to presuppose that the Chinese never came into close contact with the forefathers of the Japanese while the latter were sojourning on the Asiatic continent. It is not, of course, impossible to suppose that the ancestors of the greater part of the Japanese came over into this country without touching China anywhere, because they might have come from eastern Siberia, northern Manchuria, or some other quarter, narrowly avoiding coming into contact with the Chinese, though, actually, it is not a very easy matter to imagine such a case.
Let us, then, drop all idea of the Chinese, and suppose that that race can be put aside in our consideration of the prehistoric Japanese without glaring unnaturalness. Still the question remains unsettled, whether the bulk of our ancestors from the continent contained within it the ruling class, who gave a unity to the heterogeneous population of this Island Empire. One would say that a certain stock among many, who had their abode in northeastern Asia, might have become predominant over the kindred people of various stocks settled previously in Japan. And the cause of the predominance may be supposed to have been a decided advance in civilisation on the part of the chosen stock. That is to say, the tribe in question might have been already in the iron age with respect to its civilisation, while other tribes were still lingering in the neolithic age. But in order to sustain this supposition, it is necessary to premise another assumption that the predominant stock was comparatively late in coming over to Japan, and that it had already attained the civilisation of the iron age before its immigration into Japan while the other inferior tribes remained at a standstill in their civilisation after settling in our country. Such an assertion, however, cannot be deemed probable without admitting that there was a considerable interruption of communication between Japan and the Asiatic continent before the immigration of the predominant stock. Otherwise it would be very difficult to entertain the idea that the civilisation of northeastern Asia could remain alien to the inhabitants of Japan for so long a time as to cause a wide difference in language, manners and customs, and so on, between the peoples on the two opposite shores of the Sea of Japan.
Besides, to suppose that the forefathers of the greater portion of the Japanese people were immigrants from northeastern Asia, is, by itself, nothing but a hypothesis, supported by a few remains only, which can be interpreted in more than one way. To go one step farther, and assume that the ruling class of the Japanese too came over from the continental shore of the Sea of Japan is another matter, too uncertain to be readily accepted. Whatever degree of probability there may be in these assertions, there are certain items in our history to the natural interpretation of which any solution of all the ethnological problems must conform; and among those items the following are the most important.
The first to be considered is the style of the Japanese building, especially the style of the Shinto shrines and of the dancing halls frequently attached to them. The architectural style of the ordinary Japanese house has undergone many successive changes during the long course of its history, so that its primitive form is now, to a great extent, lost. For instance, the tatami, a thick mat, which covers the floor of a Japanese room and is now one of the most remarkable characteristics of Japanese household fittings, is a comparatively modern invention, only planks having been originally used as the material for flooring. Buddhistic influences too can be traced distinctly in a certain turn of construction copied from China, first in building Buddhistic temples and then widely adopted in building ordinary dwelling-houses. In some essential points, however, there are several traits which cannot be ascribed either to an imitation of any continental style or to the result of a gradual adaptation to the climate. Any one can easily see that the ordinary Japanese house may be good for summer and for southern Japan, but not for winter, especially for the rigid winter of northern Japan. How did such a style come into being? If it had been brought from the northeast of the Asiatic continent by the ancient immigrants from those quarters, it should have been a style more adapted to the rigid climate of northern Japan, than we find it is. On the other hand, if it were an outcome of a natural development on the Japanese soil, it should have been one more adapted to the climate, as suitable for the winter as for the summer. Does it not amount almost to an absurdity, that the Japanese should still be following this ancient style of architecture in building their houses in Manchuria and Saghalen? Why do they cling to it so tenaciously? One would say, perhaps, that the architectural form of the ordinary Japanese house has undergone changes from various causes, so that one cannot fairly draw absolutely correct conclusions about the primitive dwellings of the ancient Japanese from its present condition. If that be so, let us take the style of the Shinto buildings into consideration. If it can be thought, with reason, that the Shinto building still best retains some of the characteristics of the primitive Japanese house, then the thatched roof of a peculiar construction with projecting beams at both ends of the ridge-pole, together with a highly elevated floor, the space between which and the ground serves sometimes as a cellar, cannot but suggest the existence of a certain relation between the primitive houses of Japan and those of the tropical regions lying to the south of Asia, such as the Dutch East Indian Archipelago and the Philippine Islands, or the southeastern coast of the Asiatic continent.
The next point not to be neglected is rice as the staple food of the Japanese. Everybody knows that rice is a daily food stuff not only of the Japanese, but of the Chinese and many other Asiatic peoples. In the case of the inhabitants of northern China, however, other kinds of cereals are eaten as well as rice, as a natural consequence of the scanty production of the latter in those regions. And it is worthy of notice that even in southern China this cereal is eaten not as is customary in our country. There they eat rice as well as meat, or rather more meat than rice, while here in Japan meat and fish are mere ancillary foods, rice being the chief article of diet. What is the cause of this difference in the use of rice? Is Japan specially adapted for the production of this grain? Southern Japan of course is not unfit for the cultivation of the plant, viewed from the point of soil and warm climate only. But even there the rice crop is very uncertain on account of the September typhoons, which annually bring new wrinkles of anxious care on the weatherbeaten faces of our farmers. So a fortiori rice does not conform to the climate of northern Japan, where the frost arrives often very early and the whole crop is thereby damaged, except a few precocious varieties. This explains the reason, why there have been repeated famines in that region, occurring so frequently that it can be said to be an almost chronic phenomenon. By the choice of this uncertain kind of crop as the principal food stuff, the Japanese have been obliged to acquiesce in a comparatively enhanced cost of living, which is a great drawback to the unfettered activity of any individual or nation. This is especially true of recent times, since the growth of the population has been constantly forging ahead in comparison with the increase of the annual production of rice. The tardiness of the progress of civilisation in Japanese history may, perhaps, be partly attributed to this fact. Then why did our forefathers prefer rice to other kinds of cereals, in spite of the uncertainty of its harvests? Was it really a choice made in Japan? If the choice was first made in this country, then the unwisdom of the choice and of the choosers is now very patent. On the other hand, to suppose that this choice was made by our ancestors in northeastern Asia during their sojourn in those regions is hardly possible. Moreover, the general use of rice in Japan has been constantly increasing. In old times the use of it was not so common among all classes of the people, though now it can be found everywhere in Japan. This fact also leads us to doubt the assumption that the cultivation of rice was initiated in Japan, or that it was brought by our ancestors from their supposed continental home in northeastern Asia.
What thirdly claims our attention is the magatama, a kind of green bead, varying in size. It is one of the few ornaments peculiar to the ancient Japanese, though it does not seem probable that its material was naturally produced in our country. Without doubt our ancestors were very fond of this kind of bijouterie. It has been excavated in great numbers from old tombs, throughout the whole of historic Japan, and the sepulchral existence of the magatama is now generally admitted by most Japanologists as an unmistakable token of a former settlement of the Japanese. It must, however, be remarked that, on the Asiatic continent, magatama are found in southern Korea only, the region which once formed a part of the Japanese Empire. Surely it should have been discovered in northern Korea and on the Siberian coast of the Sea of Japan also, if our forefathers, inclusive of the ruling class, came over from northeastern Asia. It is very curious that nothing of the kind has been discovered as yet in those supposed original homes of the Japanese.
The last item we must mention here is the misogi. The misogi is an old religious custom of lustration by bathing in cold water. In a legend of our mythical age, there is an account of this antique ritual performed by two ancestral deities in a river in Kyushu, and this ritual has come down to our day, of course with some modifications. The custom of actually bathing in the water was afterward superseded by the throwing of effigies into a river, in the annual ceremony of praying publicly to deities. In medieval Japan this usage continued to be practised at a riverside in the summer; but it is almost extinct nowadays.
On the other hand, not as a public ceremony, but as a method of individual self-purification, this custom of lustration is still practised by many pious persons. Almost entirely naked, even in the winter of northern Japan, they pour on themselves several bucketfuls of cold water, and thus purify themselves from head to foot, in order to attest a very special devotion to the deities to whom they pray. This custom of bathing with its religious signification is something that cannot find its likeness anywhere else, either in northeastern Asia, or in China, or in Korea. Whence, then, did the ancient Japanese get this unique custom? Would it not be natural to suppose the custom of bathing, including its religious use, to have originated in some quarter of the torrid regions of the earth than to speak of it as initiated in the frigid zone?
All the four items mentioned above ought by all means to be interpreted adequately and naturally, whatever standpoint one may take in solving ethnological questions concerning the Japanese. The hypothesis that the bulk of our forefathers might have been immigrants from northeastern Asia, is, as already said before, by itself nothing but an assertion, supported mainly by the form of certain prehistoric pottery, which may possibly be interpreted otherwise, perhaps disadvantageously, too, for the assertion. We may accept the hypothesis as probable, taking into consideration the proximity of the supposed home of our ancestors to Japan. But it avails us not at all in interpreting the points which I have enumerated above. On the contrary, if we concur with the supposition that the ruling class, also, of the Japanese has its original home in the northeastern part of the Asiatic continent like the bulk of the race, then the interpretation of the aforesaid items would become more difficult. It is true that those who would like to derive the origin of the Japanese from northeastern Asia, do not absolutely deny the existence of a certain tropical element in the final formation of the Japanese race, but generally they think that the element must have been very insignificant. They would never go so far as to look to the element for the bulk of our forefathers or for the ancestors of the ruling class. If the tropical element be as insignificant as they suppose, then we should be naturally induced to imagine that those customs alien in their essential nature to the soil and climate of Japan were imported by those immigrants from the tropical South who, insignificant, not only in number, but also in influence, have, notwithstanding, taken a firm root in the historical and social life of the Japanese, struggling against the opposition of overwhelming odds, far more numerous, civilised, and powerful, an utterly impossible hypothesis. How then, did such an incongruous idea with its fatal conclusions come to be entertained by scholars? Because they have too great a faith in the power of civilisation, so-called, to decide the rise and fall of races in the primitive age.
Those who would uphold the assumption of the northern origin of the Japanese, or at least of its ruling class, tacitly presuppose that the northeastern Asiatics of the prehistoric age were several steps ahead of the contemporary tropical peoples in the progress of civilisation, or at least that one of the many tribes of northeastern Asia was far superior to its neighbours as regards civilisation. Otherwise they think that a certain stock of people, which afterwards became the ruling class in Japan, had attained already the civilisation of the iron age while they were still on the continent, so that when they came over to Japan they would have been far more advanced than the people who had settled in Japan before them. Though it is but a conjecture, it is good so far as it goes. To deduce the domination over alien races simply from the superiority of the civilisation must be another thing. Even in modern times, sheer valour often tells more than superiority of arms in deciding the fate of battles. This must have been even more true in early ages. The empire of Rome was broken asunder by the semi-civilised Germans. In the East, China was repeatedly overrun by nomadic tribes far inferior to the Chinese in civilisation. What is true in this respect in historic times, must be particularly true in prehistoric ages. It is too superficial to think that a tribe in the stage of the iron age must necessarily conquer in fighting against other tribes knowing and using stone weapons only. In those ages it is strength, ferocity, courage, which tell decidedly more in fighting than any weapon. We need not therefore take much account of the state of civilisation among different primitive tribes in determining the origin of the Japanese race.
On the other hand, we are in no wise bound to minimise the significance of the tropical element, in number as well as in influence, as regards the formation of the Japanese people. The remarkable differences in distance make it very natural to suppose that the immigrants from the tropical regions might have been less numerous than those from the north. Still it is not utterly improbable that a pretty substantial number of the Southerners might have come over into Japan, drifted over not only by the current but by the wind also, sometimes in groups, sometimes sporadically, and that they could subdue the inhabitants by force of martial courage yet unenervated and not by that of a superior civilisation only. The main difficulty in establishing this assertion lies in the fact that it is not quite certain whether they were really brave and heroic enough to achieve such a conquest. As to the linguistic consideration which is the favourite resort of many ethnologists it can be said that it is not more harmful to the one hypothesis than it is advantageous to the other. It is quite needless to argue that there is little sign of the existence of any linguistic affinity between the language of Japan and those of the tropical lands, except in a few words. This lack of linguistic affinity, however, can be explained away, while maintaining the importance of the ancient immigrants from the South, by considering that the ancestors of the ruling class, having been inferior as regards civilisation to the other stock or stocks of people whom they found already settled prior to them in Japan, and having been perhaps inferior in number also, gradually lost not only their language but many of their racial characteristics as well. Similar examples may be found in abundance in the history of Europe, the Normans in Sicily, and the Goths in Italy being among the most conspicuous. It is not impossible to suppose the like process to have taken place in Japan also.
Summing up what is stated above, I cannot but think that the prehistoric immigrants into our country from the South were by no means a negligible factor in constituting the island nation, though the majority of immigrants might have come from the nearest continental shores, and in this majority it is not necessary to exclude the Chinese element altogether. It seems to me probable that southern Japan, especially the island of Kyushu, was inhabited in the prehistoric age by the Ainu, and by immigrants from the North as well as from the South side by side. But what was the relative distribution of these agglomerate races at a certain precise date is now a question very hard to settle definitely.