XVI. A TRAMP THROUOGH JAPAN
January 22nd, 1872. - A pitiless blast. Snow drifting in heaps, and whirling fine dust. Baggage-carriers have gone ahead. Forty students wait to escort me to Morinoshita (Beneath the Grove), three miles distant. On Daimiō Avenue a crowd of officials, citizens, and lads wait to say farewell.
Sayonaras and good wishes are exchanged with mutual regret. The line of march is over New Bridge. In Boat-landing Street snow lies eight feet deep, with constant additions from the house-tops. Out on the plain, past the city, the blast is horizontal, its force overpowering, its sting terrible. It is difficult to keep the path. The cold is intense. Yet the students jest, laugh, and sing lively songs, as though on a summer's day.
At Morinoshita we halt. The younger students return to Fukui. Our party and six others push on to Takéfu. Here a farewell banquet is given me. Fourteen tables are set. Two hours of fun and cozy comfort pass. The hotel is warm. It seems madness to go out in the storm. Yet I will go.
We send out for kagos or horses. We can get neither. Not a man will venture, even a ri, for triple the price. We lose two hours in waiting, and at four o'clock set out on foot. One mile of floundering, and our strength is strained. It is getting dark. The landscape is level white. Even the stone idols are snowed up. No field, watercourse, house, bush, or shrine is in sight. We can not see a hundred feet before us, even where the furious wind allows us to look ahead. We have lost the path. Our case is desperate. To advance or return is alike impossible. Total darkness is imminent. To spend the night here is to freeze. But look! a lantern glimmers in the distance. We shout. The sounds are twisted out of our mouths, and swept into the snow-drift. Slowly the lantern vanishes, and with it our hopes disappear.
Night swoops on us. For another hour we flounder, vainly seeking the path. We are on the edge of despair. "Bearded Higo," calm and brave, is vigorously punching the snow to find bottom. Eureka! He has struck the path. No pick of miner or drill of engineer ever struck gold or oil with intenser joy. We mount the crest of safety from our white abyss. Our leader keeps the ridge: we follow. We are often blown off or fall out, but his cane is surer than witch-hazel or divining-rod. We wade a mile farther. A shout from "Bearded Higo" announces a village. We peer through the blast. A housegable looms up. Well named is Imadzuku (Now we rest). We crouch under the porch while one hies in quest of an inn. We enter not a palace; but cheery welcome glorifies host and house. We shake off, doff, and sit, at the hearth, watching the cookery. Rice, bean-cheese, daikon, mushroom, fish, are served. Then we take up our beds and walk. With feet under kotatsu, come rosy slumbers and dreams of home.
January 23d. - Snow, snow, snow. Inouyé has hired for me eight stalwart men, grasping, staves, and shod with snow-shoes of birch boughs, two feet long, one foot wide, and well wattled, who wait at the door. Their leader punches the drifts for a footing, which on the mountains is tolerable, on the plains fearfully bad, often through slush and icy water. I wear straw boots: though wet, they keep the feet warm. After some miles, we tug up a steep pass with a warm name, Yunoö (Hot-water Tail). Chattering girls, in rival inns, give us noisy welcome. We sit down, drink tea, and gossip. A priest on his way to Takéfu last night lost his path, and froze to death. A postman was struck by an avalanche, knocked down, hurt, and nearly smothered.
We resume our march. Many tracks of avalanches, twenty feet wide, are seen. One crashes and tumbles just in front of us. I notice that the clapboard roofs of houses are weighted down by stones, like those on Swiss châlets. The tracks of boar, bear, foxes, and monkeys are numerous. It is the hunter's harvest-time. Dressed carcasses are on sale in every village. I wonder how a Darwinian steak would taste. "No, thank you; no monkey for me!" is my response to an invitation to taste my ancestors. Good people, you need "science" to teach you what cannibals you are.
At 1.30 P.M. we reach Imajō. At the huge fire-place, I warm and smoke myself till I learn how it feels to be a dried herring. Our food is sauced with hunger and hospitality. Verily, it is delightful to meet unspoiled Japanese, who have never encountered civilization or drunken sailors.
At 3.30 I mount a horse who has two legs and no tail. The saddle - a bundle of straw - rests on the man's loins. I bestride him, my legs on his hips, and arms round his neck. I can choke him if I like. I grip him tightly at dangerous places. These mountaineers think nothing of this work of carrying a man of sixteen-stone weight. Each man has a staff to prop me up when he stops to blow and rest. Riding man-back is pleasant, unless the animal (ippiki) is extravagant with pomatum, or his head-kerchief and the wash-tub are strangers. The horse-men carry us one ri. Snow is too deep: I dismount and plod on. Among solemn groves of pine, walls of rocks and hills, darkness falls; but the moon silvers the forest, burnishes the snow, reveals mystic shadows. Our six bearers light four huge torches of rice-straw leaves and twigs, ten feet long and six inches thick. The lurid glare lights up the gorges. Prismatic splendors dance in the red fire-light. Snow crystals and pendant icicles become chandeliers. Intense fatigue can not blind me to the glories of this night-march.
At nine o'clock the path is but a few inches wide. To miss a step is a serious matter. It plunges me to my waist in soft snow. The bearers pull or pry me out. Every stop is misery. Another seems an impossibility. Yet none else of the party says a word. Admirable is the spirit of the Japanese in hardship. The last ri is torture to me. At last a light gleams above us. We file through the village street. Kindly welcome and tender care are mine from all. Sahei undresses me like a child. My limbs no sooner free, I sink, exhausted, asleep.
January 24th. - I am too stiff to stand. I feel like singing the college-song, "Saw my leg off," and with emphasis on the word "short." I hobble about for a few minutes. My joints relax. Our path lies through glorious valleys charged with vitalizing air. Amidst such scenery I forget my limbs. We bear the shouts of hunters. At ten o'clock we leave Echizen and enter Ōmi. In the village, at which we dine on wild-pork steaks, omelet, rice, and turnips, snow lies level with the eaves, shields of bamboo making a corridor between snow and houses. Our host, Nakano Kawachi, has speared eight hogs since snow fell. Strings of dried persimmons hang from his rafters like dried apples in an old-time New England kitchen. They look and taste like figs. The small boys are crazy with delight at the strange sight of a foreigner. A feint to scare them scatters the crowd and leaves a dozen sprawling in the snow. At Tsubaë we spend the night. The inns are full. Our rooms are poor. The nomi (Pulex irritans) bite unusually hard. This is a rare behavior for them in winter.
January 25th. - Breakfast is flavored with fun and bright, eyes. An extremely pretty, pearly-teethed, sweet-voiced, and bright-eyed. girl, waits on us. Her merry laugh and chatter make amends for shabby quarters. An unusually generous fee from the foreigner is on account of her reminding him of bright eyes in the home land. Faces here in Japan recall familiar faces long known, and every phase of character in New York is duplicated here.
We are descending the highlands of Echizen and Ōmi to the plains of Mino and Owari. Weather grows warmer, villages more numerous, road more regular. We are in a silk region. Plantations of mulberry-trees, cut to grow only six feet. high, abound. Lake Biwa lies in the distance, a picture of blue massively framed in mountains. Dining at Kinomoto (Foot of the Tree), we embark in kagos. In these vehicles I always fall asleep at the wrong end; my head remaining wide, awake, while my feet are incorrigibly somnolent. I lie in all shapes, from a coil of rope to a pair of inverted dividers, with head. wrapped front the cold and hardly enough face visible to make a monkey. In the fine hotel at Odani, the old lady hostess is very motherly to her first foreign guest, until I settle in kotatsu in the "daimiō's chamber," with maps and books on the floor, when she resumes her spectacles and sewing. Round the room hang gilt and lacquered tablets of the lords and nobles who have lodged at this house. My prince's card is among them. The old lady brings me sheets of paper to write my name, poetry, wise saws, etc., upon, as mementoes. After supper, lnouyé "fights his battles o'er." A bullet grazed his fore head in the campaign of 1868-'70. The students recount the lore of the places passed, and the Guai Shi narratives. "To-morrow," says lnouyé, "we shall cross the battle-field of Sékigahara."
January 26th. - We have left the snow behind us. Through mulberry plantations, over dark and loamy soil, we pass under the shadow of Ibuki yama, his glorious form now infolded with clouds, now revealed in sunshine. We pass the tomb of beautiful Tokiwa, mother of Yoritomo. Every step is historic ground. The study of topography is a wonderful help to the imagination. We are now on Japan's greatest battle-field. The war panorama of October, 1600, appears before me. Here stood the head-quarters of Iyéyasŭ there were the lines of battle; over that road the army of the league marched to take up their position; and beyond stood the Jesuit monastery where, botanists say, Portuguese plants grow, and flowers bloom. Here sat the victor who knotted the cords of his helmet.
We are now on the Tōkaidō. This I see at once, from its width, bustling air, and number of tea-houses. Over this road tramped the armies of Iyéyasŭ, plodded the missionaries of the Cross and Keys, moved the processions of the daimiōs, advanced the loyal legions from Fushimi to Hakodaté To-day a different sight makes my heart beat and my eyes kindle. Emerging from a year's exile, here, in the heart of Japan, I see before me telegraph-poles; their bare, grim, silent majesty is as eloquent as pulses of light. The electric wires will soon connect the sacred city of the Sun Land with the girdle that clasps the globe. Verily, Puck, thou hast kept thy word even in Japan. Morse, thou hast another monument.
A glorious sunset writes in prophecies of purple and gold the weather "probabilities" for the remainder of my journey. At Ōgaki - the persimmon of Iyéyasŭ - "the splendor falls on castle walls," and evening glow gilds the old towers as we enter the historic gate-ways. We spend the night here.
January 27th. - I meet many of the jin-riki-shas of modern, and pass a grassy mound of skulls and skeletons, the memorial of some battle in ancient, Japan. The road, lined with pine-trees, which overarch and interlace, seems like a great cathedral aisle. We pass over long embankments, eighteen feet high and forty feet wide, made to keep off the tidal waves which sometimes arise. At Okoshi, we leave Mino, and enter Owari, with its many large towns and cities. At Kujosu we visit Nobunaga's old castle. At 4 P.M. we enter Nagoya, the fourth largest city in Japan, with the finest castle outside of Tōkiō.
Two of its towers were formerly surmounted with huge fish made of copper, covered with plates of gold. A robber, who mounted on an immense kite in a gale at night and tried to steal the gold scales, was detected, boiled to death in oil, and the raising of large kites ever afterward prohibited in Owari. Nagoya is noted for fans, porcelain, and cloisonné, enamel-ware. Miya is its sea-port.
January 28th. - Leave Chiriŏ at bright starlight, witnessing a glorious sunrise. At 9 A.M. I met in American gentleman, with five betté, on a walk from Tōkiō to Kobé. Our meeting is mutually pleasant. His is the first white face I have seen for some months. Night spent at Shirasŭka, in Tōtōmi.
January 29th. - White Fuji, sixty miles distant, rises before me like a revelation. Almost simultaneously on my right I behold the sea, broad, blue, myriad-smiling. Thalatté! Thalatté! I have not seen the Pacific, nor Fuji, for very nearly a year. At Araii, we take boat and cross in arm of the sea, to a town famous for its shell-fish. I send a letter to Clark at Shidzŭöka. We are now in the coldest part of the year, called kan, but when near Hamamatsu (Strand-pine) two runners, naked to the breech-cloth, whizz past me. On the shoulders of each is a live fish wrapped in straw. Epicures in Hamamatsu like to eat fish fresh from the net, within an hour of capture, and human legs take the place of the lightning express. The fleet postman is also clothed only in a suit of cuticle with loin-strap. A bundle of letters is slung on a pole over his shoulder. In the city we meet many natives between boots and hats, in the toggery, or a travesty of the tight clothes, of civilization. I see condensed milk, beer, Yankee clocks, buttons, petroleum; pictures of Abraham Lincoln, Bismarck, George Washington, Gladstone; English cutlery and umbrellas; and French soap, brandy, and wine.
Fishermen seem to comprise the bulk of population in Tōtōmi. Millions of small fish lie drying along shore, to be used as manure. The women are busy weaving cotton cloth in narrow breadths on rude looms. The salt-makers go to the surf with buckets, saturate patches of sand repeatedly with sea-water, which, evaporated by solar heat and wind, leaves a highly impregnated sand, which is leached, and the strong brine boiled down or sun-evaporated. In the morning, fishermen keep watch on the hills till they desery the incoming shoals, when they descend and catch them. Sweet-potatoes are plentiful here, and the orange-trees glitter with their golden fruitage. We are within a few days of New-year's. All womankind in Japan is busy at house cleaning. To us travelers, who are usually at windward of the matbeaters and sweepers, it occasions much dust, and more disgust. In a village noted for silk, crapes, and embroidery, I make purchases, as souvenirs of my journey, as the Japanese invariably do. I also meet two signs of the new national life; they are postage-stamps and silver yen, or dollars.
January 30th. - Start from Matsuyama. Clark will be coming front Shidzŭöka to-day to meet me. Who shall catch first sight of the other? At 3.30 P.M., while passing over a long mountain pass, I roll out of my kago, to relieve the bearers and enjoy the exercise. I walk far ahead of my party. As I turn a rocky angle, I see him far ahead, leading his horse down a slippery path. A shout is answered by a halloo. In a moment more two old college chums, fellow-travelers in Europe, and co-workers in Japan, are in each other's arms. Our parties soon meet, and Shimojo, Clark's interpreter, exchanges his horse for my kago. Two "tŏ-jins," instead of one, astonish the natives as we gallop over the Tōkaidō into Shidzŭöka, the exile city of the Tokugawa. (Poor Shimojo, "one of the sweetest and gentlest spirits that ever quitted or tenanted a human form," now sleeps in one of the grave-yards in Tōkiō.) Old memories and new experiences make busy tongues. Our chat is prolonged far into the night. My sleep is untroubled with dreams or earthquakes.
January 31st. - To-day is for sight-seeing. I visit Iyéyasŭ's old castle, the school, the temples. I see the presents brought by Commodore Perry. Here is a sewing-machine with tarnished plates and rusty shuttles. There are maps, one of my native Pennsylvania and of Philadelphia, as they were in 1851. Here is a spectroscope, given before Bunsen and Kirchoff added to the alphabet of elements or analyzed the sun. There is also a miscellaneous array of English and other presents, including a gilt model of Victoria's crown. It awakes a curious medley of feelings to see this "old curiosity shop" in this "St. Helena of Tokugawaism."
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive."The labels seem the gibes of fate. I meet many once prominent retainers of Tokugawa, men who have led fleets and armies, or headed embassies. Others live in poverty and obscurity. Some bear sabrescars and bullet-marks as proof of their loyalty. Clark is extremely fortunate in having so many cultivated gentlemen, famous characters, and educated, intelligent helpers. The school was founded by Fukuzawa. Nakamura Masanawo, professor of Chinese, and also educated in London, his right-hand man, is printing his translation of "Mill on Liberty." He has shown me some of the cut wooden blocks; for the author is very often his own publisher in Japan. In his memorial on Christianity, some months ago, in which he urged toleration, he argued that without the religion of Christ the Japanese are plucking only the showy leaves, while they neglect the root of the civilization of Chritendom.
My host spreads a gorgeous American dinner in honor of his guest. Hattori, the governor of the ken, Nakamura, Yatabori, the school-officer, two Tokugawa ex-magnates, and two interpreters are present, the party numbering twelve in all. Mr. Katsŭ is unfortunately absent in Tōkiō, and Mr. Ōkubo Ichiō unwell. The latter sends me a fan inscribed with his congratulations, poetically expressed. A great many gifts, rather compliments, are showered upon me by officials and citizens, who seem endlessly grateful for securing them so good a teacher. Unable to carry away the load of sponge-cake, confectionery, fowls, eggs, etc., I leave them to Sam Patch, the veritable Sam, whom Commodore Perry brought back as a waif to Japan in 1853. He is now officiating as cook to Mr. Clark. Sammy's notoriety has somewhat spoiled his pristine modesty, and his head, having never been ballasted with over two-thirds the average quantum of wit, is occasionally turned, to the annoyance of his master.
February 1st. - From Shidzŭöka the journey is rapid, jin-riki-shas being numerous. Mishima and the castled town of Numadzŭ are passed. The Hakoné Mountains are ascended and enjoyed. The path is one long aisle under mossy monarch pines, through superb scenery. At dark, Sahei lights the tai-matsu (great torch), and the village people kindle fire-brands in the streets to guide the travelers - a most hospitable custom. In these Swiss-like highlands I stop to buy specimens of the carved and mosaic wood-work of exquisite neatness and delicate finish. We sleep in castled Odawara.
February 2d. - Arrive in Yokohama at 2.30 P.M. My year's residence has given me the ken of a native. My eyes have not altered their angle, yet I see as the Japanese see. The "hairy" foreigners are ugly. Those proud fellows, with red beards and hair, look hideous. What outrageous colors, so different from uniform black! How ugly those blue eyes! How deathly pale many of them look! How proud, how overbearing and swaggering, many of them appear, acting as if Japan were their own! The white people are as curious, as strange, as odd as the Japanese themselves.
Yokohama has greatly increased in size since I last saw it. I spend the night in a Christian home. After supper, at which sit father, mother, and children, some of the old sweet music, played for me on the piano, recalls all the dear memories of home and the home-land. The evening is closed with worship, in which the burden of prayer is for the rulers and people of Japan. A sense of gratitude in place of loneliness is uppermost in my mind as I lie down to rest. I have escaped many dangers since I first left home, more than a year ago. A summary of these, as they flit across my drowsy consciousness, comprises great variety. No steamer on the Pacific or Lake Biwa has burned (as the America afterward), foundered, wrecked, broken maU+00 chinery, or blown up (as one afterward did on Lake Biwa), with me on board. No stray gun-shot from bird-shooters in the rice-fields of Echizen has hit me. No rŏnin's sword has slit my back, or cloven my head, as I was told it, would. No red-capped, small-pox baby has accidentally rubbed its pustules or shed its floating scales on me. A horse has kicked, but not killed me. No fever has burned my veins, or ague, like an earthquake, shaken me back to dust again. No kago has capsized over a precipice, or come to pieces while crossing a log-bridge over a torrent. No seismic throes have ingulfed me, or squashed my house upon me, nor flood overwhelmed me, nor typhoon whirled or banged me to pieces, nor fires burned me. No kappa or any other mythic reptile has grabbed me. No jin-riki-sha has smashed me. I have not been poisoned to death by fresh lacquer. My still sufficiently sensitive nose has not, for agricultural necessities, been parU+00 alyzed by intolerable odors or unmentionable buckets. No charcoal fumes have asphyxiated me (alas! my poor, gentle friend Bates!). I have not been seethed to death in hot water by jumping unwittingly into the boiling baths so often prepared for me. My temper, though badly damaged, has not, I hope, been utterly spoiled by Asiaticisms. No centipedes or scorpions have bitten me within a thread's-width of my life; neither have the fleas in mountain inns, though they have taken more than Shylock's portion, utterly devoured me. No drunken soldier has quarreled with me, nor skewered me with his sabre. Neither did I use chemicals till I had proved them, testing before tasting. No carbonate of soda has entered my mouth till I happily showed the label a libel by a drop of sulphuretted hydrogen water, and found it to be arsenide of sodium (Na3As.). I have proved many, and discovered a few, things. The best trovers of all are the human hearts and kindly nature of the Japanese. God bless the people of Japan!
February 2d. - At 9.30 I take the steamer to Tŏkiŏ. A white and driveling drunkard, his native mistress, and a Briton indulging in brandy and tobacco, occupy the cabin. I go on deck. Landing at Tsŭkiji, I finish my winter journey of three hundred and thirty miles. At the French hotel, a good square meal seems such a triumph of civilization that I wonder how any one could ever commit hara-kiri. Tŏkiŏ is so modernized that I scarcely recognize it. No beggars, no guard-houses, no sentinels at Tsŭkiji, or the castle-gate; city wardbarriers gone; no swords worn; hundreds of yashikis disappeared; new decencies and proprieties observed; less cuticle visible; more clothes. The age of pantaloons has come. Thousands wearing hat, boots, coats; carriages numerous; jin-riki-shas countless. Shops full of foreign wares and notions. Soldiers all uniformed, armed with Chassepot rifles. New bridges span the canals. Police in uniform. Hospitals, schools, and colleges; girls' seminaries numerous. Railway nearly finished. Embassy rode in steam-cars to Yokohama. Gold and silver coin in circulation. Almshouses established. A corps of medical German professors occupy the old monasteries of Uyéno. General Capron and his staff of scientific American gentlemen are housed in the shŏgun's Hall of Rest at Shiba. A commission of French military officers live in the yashiki of Ii Kamon no kami, whose son is studying in Brooklyn. Three hundred foreigners reside in Tŏkiŏ. An air of bustle, activity,and energy prevails. The camp of the chief daimiŏ of a hermit nation is no more. Old Yedo has passed away forever. Tŏkiŏ, the national capital, is a cosmopolis.
Now begins a three years' residence in the great city.