CHAPTER XIII. MERCHANTS, WOMEN, AND SERVANTSApart from all these classes, and beneath them are the merchants. "There is such a thing as trade," said an old samurai to his pupil, "see that you know nothing of it, for trade is the only game in which the winner is disgraced." In a thoroughgoing feudal society, where personal gain was excluded, where men were to receive their daily portions and therewith be content, the man who sought gain was outside the pale of respectability. Merchants there must be, as there must be scavengers, but both are to be avoided and despised. With such a name it is not surprising that merchants came to deserve it. Trade was a game in which each sought to overreach the other.
There are a few great merchants, for the most part men who have held lucrative contracts for the Government. Arai Hakuseki has shown us how high-minded samurai regarded them in his day; and in our own, gentlemen can scarcely restrain their wrath as they speak of "Government merchants," who become rich from their contracts, and seek luxury at the expense of the people. As in Arai's day officials were supposed to share in the spoils, "so they divided the wealth of the people between them," in our day also scandals are not infrequent. But, though the secret history of Japan would show how it has been possible for officials on meagre salaries to build expensive villas and to live like men of wealth, yet the evil has been kept within bounds and has not, as in the past, affected public efficiency.
Besides the great merchants, there were rich money-lenders, who made loans to the feudal nobles. The rate of interest is excessive, ten per cent. per month being not uncommon. Many of these men lost heavily at the restoration, and their place has been taken by a system of banks organised on the Western model. But here, too, the rate of interest remains high, showing the low stage of commercial development.
With this change there is also the formation of commercial companies for steamships, mining, manufacturing, with a bourse, and all the modern methods for enriching the "public." Great factories, too, have been built, degrading labour by long hours, insufficient pay, and the employment of children; for public sentiment, which should restrain unscrupulous employers and compel the enactment of proper laws, does not exist. Nothing is more threatening to the future of Japan than this sudden development of commercialism. The old standards are gone, a new appetite for wealth has been aroused, and thus far no corresponding sense of commercial honour has been developed. Probably nothing so injures Japan as its want of a commercial code of ethics. Certainly commercialism in our own lands is far from impeccable, and one sometimes smiles when he hears the Japanese especially denounced; but when all allowances are made it remains true that the Japanese are in universal disrepute, in striking contrast to their Chinese neighbours on the continent, and to their own reputation in all other walks in life. But in a commercial age like our own it is the commercial code which after all finally determines position, and unless Japan reform and bring to its commercial transactions the same intelligence and the same honour which characterise its other departments of life it will bear a stigma which its friends will be powerless to remove.
But our dealings are for the most part with the petty shopkeepers, and their behaviour seems vexing or delightful according to our mood. If shopping be a serious affair, to be accomplished in the shortest time, with the least expenditure of strength or money for the desired result, then the shops are a trial and a vexation of spirit. But if the shopping be an amusement, a fashion for whiling away an unlimited amount of time, with a fair chance of failure after all, set off by another chance of some astonishing success, then it will be an unmixed delight. Ladies, foreigners, in Tokyo make discoveries of choice shops in unexpected places and keep their situation to themselves, like sly fishermen, or take some chosen friend in triumph and pledged to secrecy.
To buy means to bargain, usually, though there are shops where the rule is one price. But the difference between asking and taking is often immense; a vase for which twenty en was asked, and for which two en was bid, being sent in haste down the street after the purchaser, when she had told her jin-riki-sha man to go on, as she had no more time to waste. But not only is there bargaining, but sometimes a seeming reluctance to sell, as the price, having been made for a single article, is increased when you wish to buy a dozen, for that would exhaust the stock and put the proprietor to the trouble of getting more. And often the merchant has denied the possession of a certain line of goods, until his customer repeats and repeats again her knowledge that he has it, when finally he sends his clerk and produces the article from his warehouse in the rear.
Really here, too, the feudal notion still prevails. Only in exceptional instances is there enterprise, and the ordinary man is satisfied with his humble and uneventful life. All day long he sits upon his mats, with pipe and tea at hand, going through the same simple routine and varying it only on festivals or great occasions, when he shares the simple pleasure of his class, in theatre, or in gardens, or with a few friends he has a quiet dinher at an inn. It costs little, he has no desire for more, he lives as his father, lived, and as his son after him will live. And as to his customer, he measures him by a feudal standard too.
In a commercial age we pay for what we get, and it does not matter who we are, or what we have. But in a feudal society men pay according to their place and possessions. Forgetfulness of this and the intrusion of American commercialism into Japan as if eternally right has accounted for much disillusionment. I knew an American woman who learned precisely the accepted rate for a jin-riki-sha from her house to the railway station, and more she would not pay. As a result she could get only strangers to serve her, and they never a second time; for only the poor paid the rate she offered and others gave according to their rank. The man who would willingly make the trip for the American's cook would not stir for herself at the same rate. A Japanese gentleman pays twice or thrice the rate his servant pays, or feels himself disgraced. So, too, at the inns the foreigner in passing through the office notices the rates posted in plain sight: first class, thirty cents for supper, room, bath, and breakfast; second class, twenty-five; third class, eighteen; and feels offended when his bill is sent him for a dollar, but still, compared with a Japanese of rank, he gets off cheap. For when the Japanese enters his room the maid brings him tea and cakes, and he puts his tea money on the tray. Soon she returns with a receipt for the tip from the master of the house. The amount of the tip shows the estimate the guest puts upon himself and the amount of service he expects. With a charge of thirty-five cents first class, a gentleman may put down two dollars for tea money, if he be extravagant, and then on his departure tip all the servants in addition, or he may give any less sum, even ten cents or five. The treatment varies with the tip, but, after all, one thus pays not for what he gets in room or bath or food, but for courteous consideration and the respect due to him as a gentleman.
The same custom has obtained in shops, so that well-known men sometimes avoid the districts where they live and make their purchases elsewhere, and save at least fifty per cent. by their trouble. For as all Japanese social life is arranged on the basis of distinctions and differences, even the language not permitting the same word to superior and to inferior, why, then, should commerce be the sole exception and men pay only and strictly on the basis of what they get? It savours, to the Japanese, of selfishness. One man has more money than another, not that he may be more luxurious, but that he may support a larger number of his fellow-men. So was it in feudal times: when a samurai got an increase in pay it did not mean that he should have more ready money, nor that he should lay up a store against illness or old age, but that he should have a larger house and a greater retinue of servants, and thus provide a livelihood for a greater number. According to the political economy of feudalism this is the proper use of an increased income, and according to feudal ethics any other course is inspired by selfishness, and is evidence of a meanness which invites contempt.
We have described the fashions of payment in an inn,-perhaps we may spend a night in one. Nowhere has the art of innkeeping been more studied, yet it is of late date, for inns were built first for the accommodation of the feudal nobles and their trains on their procession to and from Yedo, in the Tokugawa days. In the earliest times none would entertain a stranger, and even the sick were left to perish in the open, so that travel was difficult and dangerous. Now they are to be found in all parts of the Empire, and are of all degrees of excellence, but, for one who is inured to Japanese life and can do as the natives do, there is a charm about the best of them. After three or four days in the mountains and a final day of many miles of hard and lonely walking, ending with twenty-five miles or more in a jin-riki-sha, I am rolled up to the gateway of the most famous inn in one of the most popular resorts overlooking the Inland Sea. Instantly I am loudly greeted from within, and a moment later a group of servants with the host warmly bid me welcome. I sit on the narrow veranda, and remove my shoes; then as a small tub of warm water is brought at my request I wash my feet and enter. Passing the kitchen, which is in front and serves as office, I notice that the rate, first class, is thirty-five cents. The maid takes me past a court in which there is the suggestion of a garden, a tiny pond and carp, with shrine and bridge and tree, to a long suite of rooms in the rear looking off over a rich landscape to the distant sea. I seat myself upon a cushion; the maid disappears, and returns soon with a teapot and cup and a dish of cakes upon a tiny tray. I drink the tea ad libitum, eat the cakes, and chat with the maid. To-day I am tired, hungry, and shall be extravagant, so when I have finished I put a dollar on the tray for tea money. She thanks me, withdraws, and soon returns with a receipt from mine host.
Now she makes my room by putting up screens in the little groves which separate the space covered with mats, and as the walls are thus formed on two sides my room is lined with pictures in gold, the floor is covered with fine white mats hedged with red silk. The alcove by the place of honour forms a third side, and it has a bronze vase with a plum branch, for it is early spring. The fourth side has translucent slides, and pushing them aside I look out towards the sea. By and by the maid comes again and asks if I will have a bath. I ask if it is ready, and she says, "No, it is not hot enough." Then I ask if I am the first guest to arrive, and she says, "Yes." So I ask her to put in some cold water and to let me go at once, as foreign flesh cannot stand the heat of their hot baths, and guests take precedence, using the same bath in order of arrival. She laughs at that and goes to put in the cold water, and coming back brings bath-robe and towels. The bath chances to be slightly retired, and not in the centre of the most open space, as is common. I find it still hot enough to take away my breath as I get in and shiver from the heat, but the maid cries out: "I'll heat it up, and make it warm, for I know you are too cold." After a little hot water and tubs of cold I go back to my room, and dinner is served. Three little tables in succession appear, soup, four kinds, and fish-also four varieties-and a bit of game with the Japanese sauce shoyu, and rice from a wooden tub with bamboo sprouts, and lily roots, and tea. It is a dinner for an epicure, and takes away the last traces of the evils of the day, and makes the traveller supremely content.
After a smoke I clap my hands and ask for my bed, telling the maid that foreign bones are soft and that I must have an unusual number of quilts. So she brings in three or four and heaps them upon the floor. They are stuffed with cotton and covered with silk. When I have spread my sheet over them, my one foreign weakness, it is a bed restful for the weary traveller. Another quilt is drawn over me and I sink off to sleep. The lamp has been put out, but an old-fashioned Japanese lantern takes its place, which burns bad-smelling vegetable oil in a little basin with the wick just peeping over the side. Close by my pillow-that happens to be my coat rolled up, for the Japanese head-rest must be mastered young, like golf-is the tobacco tray, as one smokes on waking up at night. And indeed if one awakes at night he will hear from some portion of the inn the tap of the metal pipe on the side of the bamboo receptacle for ashes, showing the commonness of the custom, and the necessity for the provision.
The inn at night leaves much to be desired, provided one has not acquired Oriental nerves, for every sound is audible throughout, as the rooms are separated only by paper screens, and there are people, Occidentals, who object to rooms without doors or windows or locks, enterable on any side by pushing back a smoothly moving slide. But in my experience in Japanese inns I suffered no inconvenience from this peculiarity, save once, and that was my own fault.
Early in my residence, while I was acquainted still only with town-bred Japanese, I crossed the bay of Tokyo in a junk with a Japanese friend to hold a service in a country town. Arriving at eventide my friend took his bath, we had our supper, and waited for the congregation to assemble. The meeting was to be in the inn, its broad expanse of mats offering the largest accommodation. At eight o'clock, no one appearing, my friend said he would go up the street and soon be back.
At nine o'clock no one had yet appeared nor had my friend returned. At half after nine I was still alone, and, sleepy from my day on the bay, and thinking our notices had gone astray and that the meeting would be the following day, I called the maid, had the slides put in place, the quilts on the floor, and soon was comfortably disrobed and in my resting-place. Hearing a slight noise, I looked up, and saw to my dismay the slides pushed back and the congregation seated and filling the inn. I was apparently the only one at all disturbed or surprised, they doubtless thinking my reception one more foreign peculiarity. I had not learned that in the country hours are later than in town, and that ten o'clock is not an unusual hour for meetings. The peasants will sit for hours and listen to discourse after discourse. I have been asked to preach three consecutively, -not a proof of my eloquence but of their endurance,-helped, it is true, by cups of tea and cakes and tobacco.
Sometimes arrivals are late and departures early. I have spent the night at inns where there were only two or three hours of quiet, and where one wondered how the servants stood the strain of such continuous late and early hours. Very often, too, especially in summer time, fleas in abundance emerge from their hiding-places, the straw-stuffed mats being just to their liking, and attack the traveller. One could tell large stories on this theme.
But this night, near the inland sea, neither late arrivals nor insect foes disturbed our slumbers, and in the morning, after tea and rice, with fish and eggs, we took our leave, not forgetting a small present to the maid. Our host with all his retinue followed us to the gate, bidding us a happy journey, and at the farthest corner of the town as we turned out upon the highway to the port were our hostess and our maid, bowing deep salaams, and shouting their farewells.
Would one see Japanese life in its simplicity, he should visit any of the innumerable resorts in the mountains. Bathing in hot water has had high attractions from the earliest times, possibly because nature has provided facilities so abundantly. Almost every district has its resort, where the hot water rushes out of the earth and at the expense of piping supplies endless opportunity for pleasure and healing.
Around the spring villages are built, in picturesque confusion, often clinging to the mountainside, the foundations of one house level with the roof of the next, with narrow lanes and winding walks thickly lined with cottages as if land were priceless in value, with the population as dense as in the metropolis. Sometimes the houses are in a valley, with a single street, and the hot water led in pipes of bamboo down its centre.
One may provide himself, as he will, with rooms only, bringing his own servants and food, or, as with the poorer people, cooking his own meals. This need be his only expense, save the tiniest fee for the bath. It occupies some prominent position, preferably the middle of the street, and the custom is for men and women to make their toilets in their rooms and then walk to and from the bath in complete unconsciousness of anything surprising or immodest. Or one may find an expensive suite of rooms in some fine inn, and be furnished his food and all he needs with, possibly, in these degenerate foreign days, a separate bath in private.
The springs vary in temperature and in quality. There are some which are pure hot water, some which are redolent of sulphur, many which are a compound of strange ingredients, and some which are so very hot that even the Japanese need mercy. One, for example, much frequented by patients grievously afflicted, is of such a temperature that the unfortunates who must use it enter in companies at the sound of a bugle, and are cheered in their endurance by the attendant, who tells them every few seconds that only so much of their torment remains. One very strange bath, of exceptionally low temperature, only two degrees below blood heat, has bathers who remain in the bath for two weeks at a time, sleeping and eating in the water, floating at night with a stone on their stomachs to keep them in position. Naturally these baths are chiefly for those who need them, but in many a resort the pleasure is the chief thing, and it is not unusual for the visitor to take six or eight dips a day. But besides the bath there is little to do, no driving, no gatherings for afternoon scandal and divertisement, no balls, and no cards. To bathe, to eat, to rest, to play chess or go, to look languidly over the display in the little shops, and perhaps to make an excursion or two to places of interest in the neighbourhood exhausts the list of pleasures. Foreign visitors find their chief interest in tramps to waterfalls and mountain peaks, but the combination does not seem to appeal especially to the Japanese.
He climbs mountains, too. We have already referred to the societies among the common people for the provision of funds for the needed expense. So universal is the passion for journeying and climbing, for visiting sacred peaks and shrines, that I do not know another country so provided with admirable resting-places for the traveller. It matters not where one goes, how remote the district or how inaccessible the mountain, one is certain to find, excepting in the rarest instances, just what he (he being a Japanese) needs. Thus one may reduce his luggage to a minimum and go in faith, for such trips are not that one may display his fine clothes nor follow expensive amusements, nor make a laborious imitation of city ways, but are simple outings, with the pleasure of life in the open air, with new and beautiful scenes around one, without care or interest as to what the public thinks, nor so much as a wish to seem other than we are. And when we find our stopping-place for the noontime or for the night, we are not disturbed by some great public dining-place, nor do we pay for immense public rooms overdecorated, for which we have no use, but we have our room, where we and our friends can have privacy, sitting-room, dining-room, and bedroom in one. And, about the inn, is something on which the eye can rest with pleasure, a fine view from the window, if that be possible, or, at worst, the bit of a garden which is never forgotten. If we desire company we can have it; the people of the house are ready for a talk, and will make the opening. If they meet with a response, perhaps, if it be a time of leisure, all the company will gather around the stranger and ply him with questions about Tokyo, the place of residence written on his passport, or still more at length about his native land.
One would not idealise or imply that all is beautiful. The tourist will find one night, likely, enough. There are rats which scamper over the thin boards composing the ceiling, and fleas in the mats on which one sits and sleeps, and odours at night in the unventilated rooms, and sounds from all the adjoining apartments, and late arrivals and early goers, with a menu without bread, or butter, or meat, or potatoes, or pastry, or coffee, or almost anything which pleases the Occidental taste. But as we look at things through Japanese eyes, and as to the manner born, we have yet to find another land where vacations are so rational and inexpensive, or where all the needs of the excursionist, for short trips or for long, for the outing of a day or for the longest journey, are so provided for. The land itself invites excursions as it invites hot baths, and the Japanese respond to both invitations with avidity. For no town is without some natural attraction within easy reach, a mountain, a waterfall, a lake, or at least a hill with a great grove and temple, or, if there be not time for these, then the never-failing gardens, with their succession of changing charms.
Yet Japanese enjoyments are not wholly of these quiet and idyllic kinds. Twice a year in Tokyo are two weeks of wrestling matches, when the champions of East and West defend their titles against all comers, and finally engage in a struggle with each other for the supremacy of Japan. The sport goes back to the remotest antiquity and has always been held in honour. This is the more noteworthy, as the career of an actor has been held in contempt, and its exemplars have been denied the common rights of men. The relative positions are indicated by a story told of the champion who, invited to feast with the greatest actor in Japan, in the modern era, offered him a cup of tea, putting it on his foot and so lifting it instead of proffering it with his hand. The actor affected not to see the cup and ignored the affront.
When the wrestling festival is on, multitudes assemble at the temple and make holiday. The wrestlers are of immense size, and, contrary to all our notions of training, put on flesh. They grip each other and strain and push. A fall is gained when one is forced from the ring, or if any part of his body, except his feet, touch the ground, and it has not been unusual for men to be killed in the contest. Sometimes a champion meets opponents in succession, and wins his position at the top only by defeating all. The spectators seem to forget their Eastern stolidity; they shout, applaud, and throw gifts to their favourites,-money and clothes, and even watches.
Of late years the students in the colleges have taken up baseball, with boat races, and athletic sports. But though they manifest great interest, still they have not yet acquired that serious devotion to victory and records and the championship which menaces our student life.
Nor are public contests disfigured by betting. Indeed gaming is forbidden by law, and although, as everywhere, it more or less prevails, yet it takes its place among forbidden things and is not widely prevalent, for, in striking contrast to the Chinese and Siamese, the Japanese are not a gambling people.
Nor are they drunken. There are sake shops in abundance, and far more than enough is drunk. There are drunkards, too, and one sees, first and last, a large number of drunken men on the streets, though I do not remember seeing a drunken woman. But none the less, the people are not drunken, and excess in drink is almost as rare as excess in eating. Opium is not used at all. Taught by the example of China, the Government forbade its importation and made its prohibition effectual. On the other hand, tobacco smoking is almost universal with men, women, and children. The tobacco is mild, not to our foreign taste, and it is smoked in tiny pipes which hold three puffs and answer a large purpose in killing time through the labour of filling them. Three whiffs, then knock out the ashes, refill, and light again from the charcoal in the box, and continue at leisure all day or night.
The great blot on the social structure of Japan is its treatment of women. We do not mean that there are not happy wives and honoured mothers and carefully nourished daughters, for there are many such, but woman's status is Asiatic. As we noted in the earliest traditions of Japan a naïve indecency, so when foreigners first came to Japan there was still a naïve indecency. The records of the past are disfigured by a lawless yielding to passion by the men, and none of the heroes has been distinguished by purity. The standard has in part changed, and Japanese come to look at these matters through foreign eyes, adopting our notions, and yet the road is a long one to reformation. Licensed prostitution has advocates in Western lands, but it is most repellent in practice. The Yoshiwara must be supplied, and parents furnish their daughters, trading a child's life for a little money. That such a situation could be recognised by law tells the whole story and needs no comment. It is true the prostitute thus condemned to a life of shame through no fault of her own, but by a parent's act, does not lose so completely her position and her honour as does her sister in the West. She may still be visited by her parents, and ultimately return home. The position has even been idealised, as when the sacrifice of herself by a girl to gain sorely needed funds for a parent has been represented as righteousness, corresponding to the sacrifice of his life for his lord by the samurai. But the condition of public opinion which permits such sacrifice and does not condemn the parent for accepting the reward of it need not be described. The sexual relation is regarded as any other natural instinct, to be gratified by men as freely and as promiscuously.
In the earliest period of Japan marriage was merely the acknowledgment in public of a relationship already formed in private, and a man might have as many wives as he could get or sup. port, for it was only the wife who was bound to faithfulness. And so now, the notion of chastity has not the connotations it possesses in Christian lands. The daughter owes obedience to her father. She is to marry, to become a concubine, to enter the Yoshiwara at his will, or to remain a virgin. She has no property in herself nor any sanctity which she may maintain against him who is her lord. When she marries she changes her allegiance, that is all, and is subject now to her husband as before to her father. She is the property of a man, and if she yield to another, excepting at her lord's command, she uses what is not her own, and father or husband may kill her. As in all Far-Eastern ethics, as has been said, the obligations are "perpendicular," from the lower to the higher, from inferior to superior. And the converse does not hold: the superior is not beholden to his inferior. As the father gives no account of himself to the daughter, so the husband gives none to the wife. It is enough if he treat her kindly and provide for her support. He may bring home a concubine if he will, or he may absent himself at pleasure. Probably there is not even the attempt at concealment, for jealousy is one of woman's cardinal sins and she is early taught to avoid it. A youth would not conceal his first adventures from his mother, and from her would receive cautions only as to the danger of disease, or of infatuation which should impair his fortunes. The nation suffers in society, in the home, and in its physical condition for its violation of nature's laws. Once more we note that this, together with the want of commercial honesty, is constantly named as the deepest disgrace to the Japanese.
Gross as is the evil, yet one does not see in the streets such exhibitions as in parts of London and New York, nor are the Japanese peculiarly passionate. It is not the result of something inherent in their nature, but of the want of a different standard. In the long history, not Shinto, nor Buddhism, nor the unwritten social law, has taught the virtue of self-restraint and chastity, and the protests of men like Arai Hakuseki remained without effect. This relation of man to woman has been without thought of shame or of a different code of social life. Separated from the world it could continue as it began, but, brought into contact with the West, there are many signs that the "old order changeth, yielding place to new."
With such a thought of woman, marriage is not the union of two equal persons, nor are husband and wife the chief parties concerned. It is an affair of families and it varies with their importance. Among common men, coolies and the like, it is of little ceremony or none at all, and is terminated at pleasure on either side. In higher stations it is an affair of go-betweens and negotiations. When a husband or a wife is desired, a go-between is called in who understands the circumstances and promises to meet them. When an eligible parti is found, and the negotiations otherwise are complete, a meeting between the prospective bride and groom may be arranged. There may be one such meeting, or three, or none. Sometimes the bride-elect goes to the ceremony wholly unacquainted with the face of the man who is to be her "heaven" and "destiny," for she has been too indifferent to take the trouble involved in seeing him, and she knows her wish will not affect the result. When the contracting parties have important interests of family and especially of fortune, then the contracts are made with care, and divorce is correspondingly difficult. All the varied interests must be consulted in breaking the contract, as in forming it. The causes for divorce are so numerous that it can readily be obtained, save when these other interests are involved, and in such cases it is seldom necessary. For if there be no son a boy may be adopted or a concubine may be procured, and if tempers prove wholly incompatible the two may live apart, the wife in aristocratic seclusion and the husband following his will.
The marriage ceremony follows a prescribed routine. First is the negotiation through the gobetween, then the mutual seeing if desired, then the betrothal presents, which are binding and final, then the choice of a lucky day for the wedding. When it comes the bride arrays herself in white, the colour of mourning in sign of her death to her home, and is taken to the bridegroom's house, where she drinks two tiny cups of wine with him and then retires to her apartment where her gown is removed and she is arrayed in clothes of his providing. Then she returns, drinks three more cups of wine with him, and the ceremony is complete. These are the essentials, though details differ greatly and sometimes various elaborations are added. There is neither civil nor religious rite, though under the new code there must be a change of registration and a record of the event.
In most families the bride falls under the dominion of the mother-in-law, who remembers the hardships of her apprenticeship and revenges herself on her victim. Nothing, perhaps, is the cause of so much domestic unhappiness; so that the bride dreads not the unknown husband but the unknown mother-in-law. To the latter the husband owes first allegiance, and he gives over his little bride to her tender mercies, the newcomer being little better than a servant. She, wholly shut off from her own family, is completely one with the new relationship. Sometimes, however, the tables are turned, and the man becomes the victim, when there is no son, but a daughter. Then the go-between seeks a husband who will give up his family and his name and be adopted into the family of his bride. Only the strongest reasons can compel so unnatural an arrangement, and occasionally, the man, happier than the woman in like case, breaks away, refusing to endure the humiliation consequent upon this inversion of natural positions. Nor does the family care much though he go, provided the end has been secured and there is a grandson to perpetuate the family name.
It is only of comparatively recent date that there have been family names. A few aristocratic names go back to the Middle Ages, Minamoto, Taira, but most names are of places-Foot of the Mountain, Big Mountain, Foot of the Valley, Above the Moor; or, among merchants and artisans, the place whence a man comes may become his designation, or he may be known by his occupation. The formation of these names is still going on in the same line of development which has given us our own, though the names of trades seem more transient and not so prominent. But even a family name may be changed without ceremony upon some eventful occasion. This happens far too often in history, to the dismay of the student who comes without warning upon some one of whom he has not heard only to be told by his instructor that it is the same personage, as if Disraeli should become Beaconsfield, without note or comment. As a river is not conceived as an entity with substantial unity from source to mouth, but changes its name with almost every change in its varied course, getting new names from new natural objects and new towns and provinces, so may it be with a man. For after all, in the East, the unity of the self is not the chief fact, but the varying stream of life.
As with family names there are complications, still more with personal names. The individual has a "true name," around which a mystery gathers and which is used only on certain occasions of ceremony. Here is a survival of the widespread ancient belief in the power of a name and in the evil which may be wrought by one possessing it. So the boy has another name, which usually terminates in a numeral, indicating his number in a series, as a man in Toledo, Ohio, long ago named his sons, changing the family name, Smith One, Smith Two, and Smith Three. Sometimes a father takes syllables for the names of his successive sons which, combined, form a pun. The girls are named from flowers and trees and other natural objects of grace and beauty. But these names of childhood are changed when youth approaches, and changed again and again on occasions which demand commemoration. Besides, there are, as a matter of course, nicknames, and for authors pen names, and for artists brush names, with other variants making the subject sufficient for a chapter by itself.
The servants have their distinguishing peculiarities, accounted for in part by the forms of society. The position in the household is not menial, but might be that of members of the family. The fact that the wife serves her husband and that he addresses her as he speaks to the other helpers does not perhaps indicate so much her lowly position as their well-recognised place. For with the "status" permanently established there is less need of self-assertion and of artificial insistence on superiority. Indeed personal service might be an honour, and in a feudal state direct attendance on a superior is the reverse of humiliating. Visiting an ancient school of the unreformed type, the boys attended to all my wants, and when I went away put my two jin-riki-sha men out of the shafts and drew me in triumph to the outskirts of the town.
In a foreigner's household, the cook, as a Japanese told my friend, came first after the master, then the " boy," and then perhaps the mistress. In any case the men servants do not like to take their orders from a woman, and in important crises the master must be brought in. If one be wise, he consults the cook on most matters belonging to the home. Thus if a new servant is to be engaged let him engage her, or at least consult him, for if the newcomer-man or woman -does not suit him something happens; a parent dies, or there is some illness, or at least some mysterious business which necessitates withdrawal shortly from your service. Nor can one readily find out the truth, for it is always simpler and more convenient and more satisfactory to invent excuses than to state the fact. The head servants do the purchasing and levy commissions, squeezes, on everything which enters the gate, though the master purchase it himself. The limit of the commission depends upon the master's vigilance. If time be more precious than money and ease than the size of one's outgoes, the limit is not readily reached. We have known households who cut the expenditures in two by insisting upon an itemised account once each week. But if there be ordinary care the gain made by the servants will be moderate, and no more than the extra price charged by a shopkeeper if a man of position attempts to purchase for himself. For the tradesmen must be watched-all articles are adulterated and short weights are common. If the servant can save his master from the clutches of the tradespeople, he doubly earns his squeeze.
The servants are organised in guilds, cooks and "boys" and coolies, and, for all one knows, maids, their tradition of trades unionism being immemorial, inherited very likely from the Chinese, who are past masters in this as in other arts.
With service cheap, and with a race that loves its leisure, too much must not be expected in amount of work or punctuality. With servants, as with all else, it goes hard with the foreigner who attempts, as Kipling has it, "to hustle the East." Some time what you wish will be accomplished, "when they get around to it," as our American countrymen say; tadaima (presently), as the Japanese express it. Perhaps one has almost or quite forgotten his command, but done at last it is, after a fashion. Very likely it is just as good a fashion as our own and the time suits just as well, for after a while one accustoms oneself to easy-going ways.
A professor in the old university told me that the professors were always an hour late, and when I asked why they did not then put the hour for lectures sixty minutes earlier he replied, "Then they would have been two hours late." With such illustrations in the centres of light and leading, no wonder that the underlings take life easy and work when the convenient season has arrived.
For the rest, they are like servants everywhere. Some are good and many are indifferent or bad. Some are good-natured and lazy, and some are quick-tempered and strenuous. Some are neat and some are slovenly, some honest and some sad rogues, and, in short, all the varieties of human nature are shown. But when one is thoroughly fit, fond of his place, well treated by his betters, trained to his duties, he can make life pleasant for the household, and in his easy-going yet sufficient way smooth out the uneven places and make the crooked straight. He will be faithful, too, and hold to his mistress and master for years, following them whither they go and sharing their fortunes like the member of the family which he is. If occasionally he drinks too much sake and comes to his rooms a little roisterous, it is only on rare occasions and the vision of his master checks undue exhibitions of wrath or humour.
The fishermen form a world by themselves. On a favourable day the bay of Tokyo is white with sails, and thousands of men gain their livelihood by gathering the never-failing harvest of the sea. Nowhere else, perhaps, is there a fish market of such variety and such unlimited quantity. The fishermen talk a dialect of their own, not understood by other folk, but they comprehend ordinary talk when it is addressed to them. They live in huts along the shore, or often on their boats and are, like all fisherfolk, hardy, daring, cheerful, singing songs as they work, and apparently content whether the fish run or not, whether they are blown far out to sea or are snugly in port when the gales blow. In theta Japan has an endless supply of unexcelled material for its navy and its merchant marine.
Possibly the most interesting form of their conflicts in the deep is in Tosa. At a great headland in the season they keep watch for whales, and when one is seen an army of fishermen assemble in the hope that it will go with the current which sets around the headland and follows the coast-line. When this is the case, the fishermen launch their boats with a score of men or more in each, the boats provided with great nets of strong rope and large mesh. One is spread along the route the whale is taking and left to float. He sticks his nose in it, becomes tangled, but pushes obstinately on his way. A second, a third, a fourth and more are spread before him until he is thoroughly ensnared, and then, when he is wearied with his efforts to escape, the fishermen catch the ends of the ropes and tow the monster slowly toward the land, until at last, when he is securely in shallow water they finish him with spears. Then an orgy ensues, with drink in superabundance for the fishermen, as they cut him up and feast on his flesh; for in Japan the flesh of the whale is esteemed good food, my own experience recalling tough beefsteak fried in a sardine tin.
Besides the working classes there are parasites, beggars, and thieves. Both are organised, of course, for what can be left to individual initiative in Japan! The beggars have their king, their rules, and their divisions of territory and of spoils. Often forbidden, they still continue and thrive. Especially do they gather near the temples at festivals, hoping for their share of pious alms. On the great highway also they are in evidence, showing their sores and telling their piteous tales, precisely like their fellows in other lands.
The thieves, too, have their guilds and their degrees. There are pickpockets and sneak-thieves and highwaymen and burglars. Sometimes there is an epidemic of burglaries, the men entering houses at night, awakening the inmates, threatening them with swords, and compelling them to hand over their valuables. The threats are not empty, for if the booty be suspiciously small they will mutilate or even kill the unarmed inmates of the dwelling. The pickpockets are especially skilful, and rival the feats of their most famous brethren of Western lands. Sometimes crimes of peculiar ferocity are committed, and of great extent, as when a band of incendiaries repeatedly fired Tokyo, that they might find a profit in thieving during the general confusion and alarm; and murders are sometimes committed in country districts with the object apparently of obtaining a few cents.
The police are as clever as the thieves. We have known of articles stolen in Yokohama, discovered by the police and returned to the owner before they had been missed. In another instance a lady's gold watch was stolen and its loss reported to the police. Months went by with no return, and it was given up as hopeless when finally it was brought back. Upon being questioned, the police explained that only that morning it had appeared in a pawn-shop, the thief having kept it until he supposed the danger of discovery was past. The detectives hold the pawnbrokers to strict account and keep the sharpest watch upon the Yoshiwara and other places where men go for debauchery. Often men are placed under arrest in Tokyo because they spend money more freely than their appearance seems to warrant and can not give a clear account of their funds. Almost certainly after a little, a description of some runaway comes from the provinces. So. the prisons are kept full, for, to quote Confucius, under all governments the supply of rats and thieves does not fail.
The police are from the samurai class and they magnify their office, combining with their executive functions a power of inquisition which is half magisterial. Their control of a crowd verges on the magical, for still the old awe of authority obtains. A slight cord stretched across a street will hold back a vast crowd, and a few officers with a gesture can control a multitude. When the Emperor gave the Constitution to the Empire in 1889, he drove out of the Imperial Palace gates in a carriage with the Empress by his side. The crowd was immense, and after the procession had passed it flowed in a mighty stream towards the bridges leading across the moats, and as it approached the gateway it came together with a constantly increasing pressure. In the midst of a crowd were a foreigner and his wife in a jin-riki-sha. The police saw the evident distress on the face of the lady and, without any request, told her they would see her safely out. They whipped out their swords, and in a moment there was a clear lane between the solid ranks, down which the jin-riki-sha was pulled by the two coolies in perfect case and safety. How it was possible for so dense a mass to follow so perfectly the word of command remains a mystery.
Nor will the police accept of gifts. A friend, feeling his indebtedness to the policemen on his station,-they had a tiny house just at his corner, sent them a steaming pot of coffee with some simple articles of hot food on a cold and stormy night, only to have it returned with the message, "We are not permitted to accept gifts." So he appealed to the higher authorities and, gaining permission, made a custom of sending in refreshments on especially cold or stormy nights. Still less are the police accessible to bribes or gifts of money, though they are paid only a pittance, the ordinary patrolman getting not more than eight dollars a month. Yet they feel themselves worthy of their name and blood and like their ancestors are a part of the Government.
It is one of the illusions of foreigners that fashions do not change. As they will tell you that all Japanese look alike, and even that Chinamen cannot be distinguished from Japanese when clothed alike, so the customs of the people from year to year, and in all localities look unchangingly the same. But not to the Japanese himself, to whom the trifling differences assume a larger importance than does the unchanging mass. Fashions change in Japan also, if not as in our modern days yet as in the same state of society in Europe in the past. For fashions change most rapidly when they are the changing badge of wealth, and when social status ebbs and flows and people are known by what they wear. But when the status is fixed, and people do not wish to change their state or their rank or to seem other than they are, then, since there is no danger of mistaking rank, fashions change only in details, slowly, or in trifles. In Japan the fashions in their essentials have remained or have changed only with really changing needs. The fashion of the hair which had to do with the warriors' head-gear has gone wholly out in our day of peace, or of unartnoured war. The man of official rank wears his clothes in foreign style, as becoming modern tasks, though he returns to his native undress costume for his hours of ease. But apart from such great changes apparent to all eyes, there are smaller changes: the pattern of cloth or silk procurable this year may be sought in vain a twelvemonth hence, and the way of tying the girdle, the pattern of the sleeve and the neck-gear, change with changing places and changing times. So, too, with the dressing of the hair: it is not only that certain styles belong to certain ages and may not be affected after some fixed date, but within the limits set by age there are variations, according to fashion's whim.
Nor are costumes cheap; relatively to income, the Japanese will spend as much on the adornment of wife or child as does his Western brother, and the fine lady wears frock over frock, sometimes as many as six, each of silk, and each showing a tiny edge as she walks, her feet pushing aside the folds. The change to foreign fashions among women has been largely confined to court circles, and with a certain want of adaptiveness, at least to foreign eyes, has this advantage, that the woman thus gowned acquires with the foreign costume a consideration from the men that is wanting when clad in native garb.
But besides fashions in dress, there are fashions in other things, fads, we should call them. Long ago, for example, in the beginning of the Tokugawa days there was a craze for quails, and men paid large prices for fine or rare specimens, which were kept as pets. And in the modern era craze has followed craze in quick succession, animals and birds and flowers, with bicycles, and boating, and manias for special kinds of investments, with now and then gigantic frauds. To be in fashion in costume and amusements is no other in Japan than in Western lands.