LETTERS FROM CHINA AND JAPAN
JOHN DEWEY, Ph.D., LL.D.
PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
ALICE CHIPMAN DEWEY
NEW YORK E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY 681 FIFTH AVENUE
By E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
John Dewey, Professor of Philosophy in Columbia University, and his wife, Alice C. Dewey, who wrote the letters reproduced in this book, left the United States early in 1919 for a trip to Japan. The trip was eagerly embarked on, as they had desired for many years to see at least something of the Eastern Hemisphere. The journey was to be solely for pleasure, but just before their departure from San Francisco, Professor Dewey was invited, by cable, to lecture at the Imperial University at Tokyo, and later at a number of other points in the Japanese Empire. They traveled and visited in Japan for some three to four months and in May, after a most happy experience, made doubly so by the unexpected courtesies extended them, they decided to go on to China, at least for a few weeks, before returning to the United States.
The fascination of the struggle going on in China for a unified and independent democracy caused them to alter their plan to return to the United States in the summer of 1919. Professor Dewey applied to Columbia University for a year's leave of absence, which was granted, and with Mrs. Dewey, is still in China. Both are lecturing and conferring, endeavoring to take some of the story of a Western Democracy to an Ancient Empire, and in turn are enjoying an experience, which, as the letters indicate, they value as a great enrichment of their own lives. The letters were written to their children in America, without thought of their ever appearing in print.
NEW YORK, January 5th, 1920.
LETTERS FROM CHINA AND JAPAN
TOKYO, Monday, February.
Well, if you want to see one mammoth, muddy masquerade just see Tokyo to-day. I am so amused all the time that if I were to do just as I feel, I should sit down or stand up and call out, as it were, from the housetops to every one in the world to come and see the show. If it were not for the cut of them I should think that all the cast-off clothing had been misdirected and had gone to Japan instead of Belgium. But they are mostly as queer in cut as they are in material. Imagine rummaging your attic for the colors and patterns of past days and then gathering up kimonos of all the different colors and patterns and sizes and with it all a lot of men's hats that are like nothing you ever saw, and very muddy streets, and there you have it. The 'ricksha men have their legs fitted with tight trousers and puttees to end them, and they are graceful. They run all day, through the mud and snow and wet in these things made of cotton cloth that are neither stockings nor shoes but both, and they stand about or sit on steps and wait, and yet they get through the day alive. I am distracted between the desire to ride in the baby cart and the fear of the language, mixed with the greater fear of the pain of being drawn by a fellow-being. They are a lithe set of little men and look as if they had steel springs to make them go when you look at their course. Still I have been only in autos, of which there are not many here. I get tired with the excitement of the constant amusement. This morning a man came out of a curio shop. Bow. "Exguse me, madame, is this not Mrs. Daway? I knew you because I saw your picture in the paper. Will you not come in and look at our many curios? I shall have the pleasure of bringing them to your hotel. What is the number of your room, madame?" Bow. "No, please do not bring them to my room, for I am always out. I will come in and see them sometime." "Thank you, madame, please do so, madame, we have many fine curios." Bow. "Good-morning, madame."
The looks of the streets are like the clothes, just left over from the past ages. Of course Tokyo is the modern city of Japan, and we shall watch out for the ancient ones when it comes their turn. I wish I could give you an idea of the looks of the poor. The children up to the age of about thirteen appear never to wipe their noses. Combine this effect (more effect than in Italy) with several kimonos, one on top of the other, made of cotton and wool of bright colors and flowered, with a queer brown checked one on top; this wadded and much too big, therefore hitched up round the waist. Swung in this outside one a baby is carried on the back, the little baby head with black bangs or still fuzzy scalp sticking out, nose never yet touched by a handkerchief, wearer of the baby with a nose in the same condition if at a tender age—I scream inside of me as I go about, and it is more exciting than any play ever. We are as much curiosities to them as they are to us, though we live where the most foreigners go. Now on top of it all we can no more make a car driver understand where we want to go than if we were monkeys. We can't find any names on the streets, we can't read a sign except the few that are in English; the streets wind in any and every direction; they are long and short and circular, while a big canal circles through the part of the city where we are and we seem to cross it every few minutes; every time we cross it we think we are going in the same direction as the last time we crossed it. About this stage of our search your father goes up to a young fellow with an ulster on, and capes, and a felt hat that is like a fedora except for a few inches taken out of its height, and says to him, Tei-ko-ku Hotel, which would mean the Imperial Hotel if he had pronounced it right, and the boy turns around and says, "Do you want ze Imperialee Hoter?" And we say, "Yes" (you bet), and the fellow says, "Eet is ze beeg building down zere," so we wade along some more with all the clog walkers looking at our feet till we come to this old barn of a place where we are paying as much as at a Fifth Avenue hotel, and get clear soup for dinner. Just like any one of those old-fashioned French places where they measure out with care all they give you, and where the head is a most distinguished and conspicuous jack-in-the-box who jacks at you all the time, bows every time you go down the hall and all and all and all. It is all so screamingly funny. The shops are nearly as big as our bedrooms at home with enough space to step in and leave your shoes before you mount the takenomo and walk on the mats. We could not go into any shop, except the foreign book stores, because we were too dirty and had no time to unlace our shoes even if we wanted to wear out our silk stockings. We shall have some nice striped socks before we begin to do shopping. I am possessed with the notion of trying the clogs.
Tuesday, February 11 (TOKYO).
To-day is a holiday, so we cannot go to the bank, but we can go to a meeting where they will discuss universal franchise and democratization generally. The Emperor is said to be indisposed, so he will not come to the celebration. His illnesses, like everything else about him, are arranged by the ministers and mistresses, as near as we can make out.
We are having so many interesting experiences and impressions that it is already difficult to catch up in writing them down. Yesterday morning we went to walk and in the afternoon we were taken out in a car so that we have got over the first impression of the surface. We saw the university and the park where the tombs of the shoguns are, and those tombs are wonderful, just to look at from the car. About to-morrow we may be able to go to the museum. The rows of stone lanterns are impressive beyond anything I had imagined; hundreds of them which must have given to the nights they illuminated a wonderfully weird spectral look.
It is not fully true that the Japanese are not interested in their history. At least the educated are, as in any other country. A friend told us about the revival of interest in the tea ceremony. He is going to arrange for us to go to one somewhere, he did not say where, but it will be accompanied by a grand dinner and will express the magnificence of the new rich as well as the taste of old Japan, to judge from the impressions he gave us. He told us of an old Chinese cup for the tea ceremony that a certain millionaire has recently paid 160,000 yen for. That means $80,000. He says the collectors have various sets, and each set will often represent a million dollars. This particular bowl is of black porcelain with decorations of bright color. He told us also of a tea which is now produced in China by grafting the tea branches on to lemon trees. He has some of this tea which was given him by the Chinese ambassador and so I hope we may get a taste of it.
Apropos of this hotel you will be interested to know the manager who runs the house has just come home from the Waldorf and from London where he has been learning how to do—people. The exchange rates they offered Papa seem to be an index of their line of development and they are going to build more. This is the one first-class hotel in Japan. At present they have only about sixty rooms or a little more.
In general, things are coming along promisingly. I should be through lecturing by the first of April here, which is just the time to begin traveling. It turns out a good scheme to come in winter, for the weather, while not cheerful, is far from really cold, though it is not easy to see just how the palms thrive in the snow. Japan seems to have developed a peculiar type of semi-tropical vegetation which endures freezing and winter. I can foresee that we are going to be busy enough, and for the next few weeks your mother is going to have more time for miscellaneous sightseeing than I. It is indescribably fascinating; in substance, of course, like the books and pictures, but nothing really prepares you for the fact that it is not only real in quality but on such a vast scale—-not just specimens here and there.
TOKYO, Thursday, February 13.
We have done our first independent shopping to-day. I can't get over my astonishment at the amount and quality of English spoken here; it is about as easy shopping in this store, the big department store, as it is at home—much easier as respects attention and comfort. They give us little wrappers or feet gloves to put over our shoes. Think of what an improvement that would be in muddy weather in Chicago.
This afternoon is sort of a lull after the storm of sociability and hospitality which reached its temporary height yesterday. Let me give the diary. Before we had finished breakfast—and we have eaten every morning at eight until to-day—people began to call. Then two gentlemen took us to the University in their car and we called on the President again. He is a gentleman of the old school, Confucianist I suppose, and your mother was much impressed at being taken in, instead of staying in the car, but I think he was much more pleased and complimented by her call than by mine. Then we were taken to the department store to which I have already alluded. Many people do all their buying there, because there are fixed prices with a reward for a discovery of any place where the same goods are sold cheaper, and absolute honesty as to quality. But they also said that was the easy way to visit Japan and learn about the clothes, ornaments, toys, etc., and also to see the people, as the Japanese from all over the country come there to see the sights. There were a group of country people in; they are called red blankets, not greenhorns, because they wear in winter a red bed blanket gathered with a string, instead of an overcoat. Then at night it comes in handy.
The stores are already displaying the things for the girls' festival though it doesn't come till early March—this is the peach fete, and the display of festive dolls—king and queen, servants, ladies of the court in their old costumes, is very interesting and artistic. They have certainly put the doll to uses which we haven't approached. Then we had lunch at the store, a regular Japanese lunch, which tasted very good, and I ate mine with chop sticks. Then they brought us back to the hotel, and at two a friend came and took me to call on Baron Shibusawa—I suppose even benighted foreigners like yourself will know who he is, but you may not know that he is 83, that he has a skin like a baby's, and shows all the signs of the most acute mental vigor, or that for the last two or three years he has given up all business and devoted himself to philanthropic and humanitarian activities. He does evidently what not many American millionaires do; he takes an intellectual and moral interest, and doesn't merely give money. He explained for about half an hour or more his theory of life (he is purely a Confucianist and not a religionist of any kind), and what he was trying to do, especially that it isn't merely relief. He is desirous to preserve the old Confucian standards only adapted to present economic conditions; it is essentially a morality of feudal economic relationships, as perhaps you know, and he thinks the modern factory employers can be brought to take the old paternal attitude to the employees and thus forestall the class struggle here. The radicals laugh at the notion here much as they would in the United States, but for my part if he can get in a swipe at the Marxian theory of social evolution and bring about another type still of social evolution, I don't see why he should not have a run for his money. According to all reports there is very little labor and capital problem here yet, though the big fortunes made by the war and the increased prosperity of the workingmen have begun to make a change, it is said. Up to the present labor unions have not been permitted, but the government has announced that while they are not encouraged they will not be any longer forbidden.
But I must get back to the story. Another friend had asked us to go to the theater with him, the Imperial Theater, which has European seats and is a fine and large building, as fine as in any capital and not overdecorated like a New York one. The theater began at four, and, with about half an hour intermission for dinner, continued till ten at night; the regular Japanese theaters begin at eleven in the morning and continue till ten at night and you have your food brought to you; also they have no seats and you sit on your legs. None of the plays was strictly of the old historic type, but the most interesting one by far was adapted from a classic—it centers to some extent about a faithful horse, and the people are country farmers of several centuries ago. The least interesting was a kind of problem play—mostly philosophical discourse of the modern type—the right to expression of self and an artistic career, aphorisms having no dramatic appeal to even the Japanese audience. These people certainly have an alert intelligence—almost as specialized as the Parisian, for the audience was distinctly of the people, and no American audience could be got to pay the close attention it gave to performances where the merits, so far as they are not strictly artistic, in the technique of acting which is very highly developed, depend upon catching the play of moral emotions rather than upon anything very theatrical. However, the classic drama which is based upon old stories and traditions is more dramatic and melodramatic. The Japanese also say the old theater has much better actors than the semi-Europeanized one which is, I suppose, supported by the government. In the Imperial, the orchestra seats are one dollar and a half; they are more—on the floor at that—in the all-day theaters. Even in this one they have not introduced applause, though there was slight handclapping once or twice when the curtain went down. The Japanese have always had the revolving theater as a means of scene shifting; it works like a railway turntable apparently. Well, that ended the day yesterday. Except we had invited two gentlemen to dinner, and when we told our friends about it, they said, "Oh, just telephone them to come some other day," which appears to be good Japanese etiquette, as it is also to make calls at any time of the day, so we did. But unfortunately they had to telephone to-day that they couldn't come to-night.
To-day has been comparatively calm; we have only had four Japanese callers and two American ones. Of the two Japanese, one is a woman who is the warden of the Girls' University, and the other is a teacher in it, a young woman of a wealthy and aristocratic family who has become too modern, I judge, for her family. I hope all you children will make a bow to every Japanese you meet and ask him what you can do to be of service to him. I shall have to spend the rest of my life trying to make up for some of the kindnesses and courtesies which so abound here.
I am afraid much of this is more interesting to me to write about than it is to you to read, to say nothing of being more interesting to go through than to read about. But you can then save the letter for us to re-read when we get old and return from our Odysseying, and wish to recover the memories of the days when people were so kind that they created in us the illusion of being somebody, and gave us the combined enjoyments of home and being in a strange and semi-magic country; semi-magic for us. For the mass of the people, one can only wonder at their cheerfulness and realize what a really old and overcrowded country is and how Buddhism and stoic fatalistic cheerfulness develop. Don't ever fool yourself into thinking of Japan as a new country; I don't any longer believe the people who tell you that you have to go to China and India to see antiquity. Superficially it may be so, but not fundamentally. Any country is old where birth and death are like the coming and dropping of leaves on a tree, and where the individual is of as much importance as the leaf. Old world and New world are not mere relatives; they are as near absolutes as anything.
We heard a whistle making its cry outside and Mamma thought it was the bank messenger, so I rang the bell for the boy to bring him in—but alas, it was much less romantic; it was the call of the macaroni peddler.
Here we are, one week after landing, on a hill in a beautiful garden of trees on which the buds are already swelling. The plums will soon be in bloom, and in March the camellias, which grow to fairly large trees. In the distance we see the wonderful Fuji, nearby the other hills of this district, and the further plains of the city. Just at the foot of our hill is a canal, along which is an alley of cherry trees formerly famous, but largely destroyed by a storm a few years ago.
We have a wonderful apartment to ourselves, mostly all windows, which in this house are glass. A very large bedroom, a small dressing room, and a study where I now sit with the sun coming in the windows which are all its sides. We need this sun, though the hibashi, or boxes of charcoal, do wonders in warming up your feet and drying hair, as I am now doing. We are surrounded by all the books on Japan that modern learning has produced, so we have never a waiting moment. The house is very large, with one house after another covering the hilltop and connected by the galleries that are cut off the sides of each room in succession. I shall try to get a photo. At the extreme end of the house is Mr. X——'s library of several rooms, and at the limit of that the tea room for the tea ceremonies. Our host is not one of the new rich who buy sets at a million dollars for performing this ceremony. He laughs at that. But there is a gold lacquer table which is like transfixed sunshine, and there are other pieces of old furniture, which are priceless now, and which have come down in his family. You would be amused to see us at breakfast, which O-Tei, the maid assigned to us, serves in our sun parlor. First we have fruit. Two little lacquer tables to move wherever we want to sit. The dishes and service are in our fashion in this house. Nice old blue Canton plates and other things Japanese. After fruit she makes toast over the charcoal in the hibashi, two little iron sticks stuck in the bread to hold it. On these prongs she hands us the toast. Meantime she teaches us Japanese and we teach her English which she already knows, and she giggles every time we speak. Well, we put our toast down on the plate and she disappears. The coffee pot is on a side table and we desperately look for cups for ourselves, though with some fear of disturbing the etiquette. No cups, she forgot them. After a while she comes up again with the cups and we get coffee, then she goes down again and brings scrambled eggs on the nice old blue plates. Then she giggles a little more and talks in that soft voice that is like nothing else we ever heard, as she hands us a nice hot piece of toast on an iron spike; she is much pleased and giggles because I tell her the toast is not harmed by dropping it on the clean floor, and she walks off into the big bedroom to bring the coffee from the gas heater. It is all like a pretty play unmarred by any remote ideas about efficiency, and time and labor-saving devices. Then two maids make our beds; then they dust the floor, one holding up the sofa on edge while the other whisks underneath it, and they smile and bow and take an interest in every move we make as if we were their dearest friends.
Enter now the housekeeper who, with many bows, announces v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y that she would like to accompany me to go about the city and to explain things to me, as I would thus teach her English. I asked if she were going to church and she said she wasn't a Christian. Think what a funny sound that has. She is the secretary of Mr. X—— and a student in the new Christian college of which he is the President. She comes in now to wait on us at breakfast and she stays and repeats English after us. She knows a lot of English, but it is so literary that it is quite amusing to turn her into the ways of ordinary talk. To get her to open her mouth and break the polite Japanese whisper, in which the Japanese women speak, is what I work most on. Yesterday we visited the Women's University which is within walking distance of this house. The President, Mr. Naruse, is dying of cancer. He is in bed but is able to talk quite naturally. He has made a farewell address to his students, has said good-bye to his faculty in a speech, and has named the dean, who is acting in his place now, as his successor. At this University they teach flower arrangement, long sword, and Japanese etiquette, and the chief warden is a fine woman. She says I may come in as much as I like to see those different things.
In the afternoon we had callers again, among them two women. Women are rare. One, a Dr. R——, is an osteopath who has practiced here for fifteen years and is an old friend of our host's. The second, Miss T——, has just returned from seven years in our country. I heard much of her at Stanford and brought letters to her. She has a chair in the Women's University. It is a chair of Sociology, but she says the authorities are afraid the time has not yet come for her to start on sociology, so she will begin with the teaching of English and work into sociology by the process of ingratiating it into her classes. She is an interesting personality. She was sent to me to say I might be lonely because your father was away so she was to take me, with any other friends I wanted, to the theater. As we had already been to the Imperial Theater and sat in the Baron's box it was finally arranged to go to the Kabuki, where we sit on the floor and see real old Japanese acting, which I am very anxious to do. I understand it begins at 11 in the morning and lasts until ten at night.
Yesterday we went to the theater, beginning at one and ending about nine; tea is constantly in the box, and little meals—and a big one—between the acts. We liked the old Japanese theater better than the more or less modernized one. Baron Shibusawa presented us with a box—or rather two of them—and his niece and another relative and the two young people from the house went. I won't try to describe the dramas, except to say that the way to study Japanese history and tradition would be to go to the theater with some one to interpret, and that while the theater is as plain as a medieval European one, the dresses are even more elaborate and costly. The stage is a beautiful spectacle when there are forty old Samurai on it, as the garments are genuine, not tinsel. Mamma went more than I, because I had to leave at half-past four to go to the Concordia Society—in fact, I hadn't expected to go at all at first, as the Baron said that he sent the offer of the box because he feared Mamma might be lonely when I was away! There were about twenty-five Japanese and Americans at the meeting and after I had spoken for half an hour we had dinner in an adjoining restaurant, and then sat around and visited for an hour or so.
The great event of the week, aside from the theater yesterday, was visiting the Women's University—you mightn't think that a great treat, but you don't know what we saw. We started early to walk, since it isn't far and we had been shown the way once, but we were rubbering so busily at the shops that we failed to notice where we were till we got to the end of things and then had to turn around and walk back, so we got there late. The forenoon we spent in the elementary classes and kindergarten, which are their practice school. Those very bright kimonos for children you see are real—all the children wear them, as bright as can be, generally reds, and then some. So the rooms where the little children were are like gardens of flowers with bright birds in them—gay as can be. The work was all interesting, but the colored crayon drawings particularly. They have a great deal of freedom there, and instead of the children imitating and showing no individuality—which seems to be the proper thing to say—I never saw so much variety and so little similarity in drawings and other hand work, to say nothing of its quality being much better than the average of ours. The children were under no visible discipline, but were good as well as happy; they paid no attention to visitors, which I think is ultramodern, as I expected to see them all rise and bow. If you will think of doing all the regular school work—including in this school a good deal of hand work, drawing, etc.—and then learning by the end of the sixth grade a thousand or more Chinese characters, to make as well as to read, you will have some idea of how industrious the kids have to be, and of course they have to learn Japanese characters, too. Then we had a luncheon, ten of us altogether, cooked and served by the girls in the Domestic Department; some luncheon!—and garnished in a way to beat the Ritz—European food and service. Then the real show began. First we had flower arrangement, ancient and modern styles, then examples of the ancient etiquette in serving tea and cakes to guests, and then of inferiors calling on superiors; then Koto playing—a thirteen-stringed harp that lies on the floor—first two girls and the teacher, and then a solo by the teacher. He is blind and said to be the best player in Japan; he gave "Cotton Bleaching in the Brook," and said he rarely played it, only once a year. Well, you could hear the water ripple and fall, and hit the stones, and the women singing and beating the cotton. I could hear it better than I can hear spring in our music, so I think perhaps my ears are made to fit the Japanese scale, or lack of it. Then we were taken into the tea house and shown the tea ceremony, being served with tea. Mamma sat tatami, on her heels, but I basely took a chair. Then we went to the gymnasium and saw the old Samurai women's sword and spear exercises, etc. The teacher was an old woman of seventy-five and as lithe and nimble as a cat—more graceful than any of the girls. I have an enormous respect now for the old etiquette and ceremonies regarded as physical culture. Every movement has to be made perfectly, and it cannot be done without conscious control. The modernized gym exercises by the children were simply pitiful compared with all these ceremonies. Then we were taken to the dormitories, which are in a garden, simple wooden Japanese buildings, like barns our girls would think, but everything so clean you could eat on the floor anywhere, with the south side all glass and sun, and the girls sitting on the floor to study on a table about a foot and a half high; no beds or chairs to litter up the rooms. Then after we were taken over some of the other rooms, we went back to the dining-room and had a most exquisite Japanese vegetarian Buddhist lunch served—just a sample, all on a little plate, but including the sweets for dessert, five or six things all quite different and elegantly cooked. Also three kinds of tea.
Politeness is so universal here that when we get back we shall either be so civil that you won't know us, or else we shall be so irritated that nobody is sufficiently civil that you won't know us either. Mr. X—— took me in his car and brought me back. When we got to the hall there were five maids bowing and smiling to get our slippers and hang up our coats and hats. Just going in or out is like going to a picnic; I think the maids enjoy this change in their regular work, for they really smile, as if they were having the time of their lives. If it is perfunctory and put on, they have me fooled.
Well, I'll spare you all any philosophical reflections this trip. Besides, I've been too busy having a good time to think of any. They will probably grow spontaneously in China. I forgot whether I told you in my last letter that the Minister of the Interior has given me a monthly and renewable pass first class on the Japanese railways. A friend here asked him for one for Mamma, too, but he said he was very sorry, that privilege could not be extended to a woman. So I'm the only grafter in the family. I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but shall make one at the first opportunity in order to get the sensation.
TOKYO, Friday, February 28.
I don't get much sightseeing done except in the way of seeing street sights. I am generally accompanied when I take a walk for exercise and always taken by some new way. The other evening we went out after dinner and took a walk to a lively street not far off—booksellers with their things spread out on the sidewalk or rather road, little lunch wagons, crowded streets and shops—they have electricity everywhere, and some geisha girls trotting along with maids to carry their samisens. We went into a Japanese movie beside rubbering at everything and then went into a Japanese restaurant. Their eating places here are specialized—this was a noodle shop, and we tried three kinds, one wheat in a soup, one buckwheat with fried shrimps, and another cold with seaweed. For the entire lot for the two of us it cost 27 cents American money, and the place, which was an ordinary one, was cleaner than any American one, even the best. The movie story seemed more complicated than any of ours, and was certainly slower, because there is a man and a woman in a little coop near the curtain who say what the actors are saying whenever their lips move, this gives a chance of course for more talk. There were a few knockouts and a murder and a villain and a persecuted damsel, and an attempted suicide to provide thrills, but I couldn't make out what it was about even with the aid of the guide with me. Such are simple pleasures here, save that when we walk in the daytime we generally go to a temple where on the whole the people are more interesting than the temples, though sometimes the layout of trees is beautiful and gives much the same effect of religious calm as a cathedral. In general the similarity between worship here and the country Italian Catholicism is more striking than anything else. They are slightly more naive here—to see the dolls, woolly dogs, and pinwheels at the shrines of the children's gods, besides their straw slippers, straw sandals and an occasional child's kimono is quite touching, also sometimes a mother has cut off her hair and pinned it up as an offering. Other things are as humorous as these are pathetic, such as making spitballs of written prayers and pasting the god with them. Some of the gods are now protected by wire netting on this account. I have got fairly well used to the street scenes now and can tell most of the kinds of shops, such as an undertaker's from a cooper's. What makes the street so interesting is that you can look in and see everything going on. I forgot to mention the most interesting street thing I've seen, a bird catcher with a long limed pole like a bamboo fishing rod, a basket with a valve door to put them in and some other utensils. I didn't see him catch any, though.
Sunday Morning, March 2.
I am writing early because we are going to-day to Kamakura. You have probably heard of the big bronze Buddha—fifty feet high—well, that is there. A friend has arranged an interview for us with the most distinguished or most learned of the Buddhist priests in Japan—who belongs to the most philosophical of all the sects, the Zen, which believes in the simple life and is more or less Stoical; this is the sect that had the greatest influence on the warrior class in the good old days. Kamakura is on the other side of Yokohama, an old Shogun capital; has lots of historic shrines, etc.
Yesterday I made my first speech with an interpreter to a teachers' association, some five hundred in all, mostly elementary school teachers conspicuous for the fact that only about twenty-five were women. In the evening we went to a supper and reception of the English-Speaking Society, Americans and Japanese, mostly the latter; both men and women and the most generally sociable thing we have seen yet. We have heard said it was the only place in Tokyo where Japanese men and women really met in a free sociable way, and the president said that when Japanese met for sociable purposes they were reserved and stiff—at least till the wine went round—as long as they spoke Japanese, but speaking English brought back the habits they got in America and thawed them out—an interesting psychological observation on the effect of language.
TOKYO, Tuesday, March 4.
You would be surprised to see how free from all affectations this country has remained, at least so far as we see it. There is a social democracy here that we do not know. All Japan is talking democracy now, which is to be taken in the sense of representative government rather than in the sense of tearing down the present form of government. The representation in elections here now does not seem to extend much further, if any, than to include those large taxpayers who would under any system be a force in forming policy. The extension of the suffrage is the great question under discussion at present. That and the expansion of special education for men are the turning points for the coming legislators. Japan has acquired many new millionaires during the war and those men are already founding new schools for vocational purposes for men. Four hundred and forty students are to be sent abroad with a very generous allowance for living in the different foreign countries, none of them women, and no women are mentioned in any of the new appropriation bills. Not even a mention of the needs for women.
Yesterday, to begin, was spent thus: It was the famous festival of dolls. In the morning I made a dress for a poor sort of foreign doll I had hunted out for a little girl. It was all American. Another ridiculous imitation of American baby, looking half caste Japanese, has still to be dressed when I can find the material for long clothes, but I presented it as is. They invited me in to see their exhibition. Some of their dolls are two hundred years old from their mothers' family. I shall try to find some literature on this festival as it is too long to write about. But it is true that one begins immediately to get the passion for dolls; they are not dead things like ours, but works of art symbolic of all the different phases of national life. The little girls were delighted with their possessions. If I had only known about this I should have known what to bring to Japan for gifts, instead of feeling as helpless as I did. If you come, bring dolls.
In the afternoon I was invited to go to the best or one of the best collections in the country and that was a great experience. It began very painfully for me because I got lost and was three-quarters of an hour late at the Imperial Hotel from which we started. The family that owns this famous collection is very old and the wife is the daughter of a Daimyo, hence the dolls are very old. And they are wonderful, and more wonderful still their housekeeping equipment of old lacquer and porcelain and glass. The doll refreshments are served in tiny dishes on tiny tables while the guests sit on the floor, the hostess and her family doing all the serving. We had the thick white wine made from rice poured out of wonderful little decanters into tiny glasses. We drank to the health of the family and the stuff is delicious, with an aroma such as no honey can excel. After these refreshments we were shown the room for the tea ceremony and then taken back into the foreign part of the house for real refreshments, which consisted of many and wonderful varieties of cakes. The tea was served in cups with saucers decorated with plum blossoms, this being the time of plum blossoms. Then tea cups taken away and cups of rich chocolate placed on the tables. These tables were high enough for the ordinary chairs. All the foreign houses are very ugly in style but very comfortable and mid-Victorian. The Baroness urged us to eat special cakes and we left stuffed. One kind is in the form of a beautiful pink leaf wrapped in a cherry leaf which has been preserved from last year. The leaf gives the cake a delicious flavor and also a cover to protect the fingers from its stickiness. Then three little round brown cakes looking some like chocolate—on a skewer. You bite off the first one whole, then slip the other two as you eat them. Those alone are enough for a meal and very nourishing. All cakes are made from bean paste or like our richest pastries. When that second meal was finished, we said good-bye. The Baroness and her three pretty daughters and her sister all followed us to the outer door and when our auto drove off the last thing we saw were the bows of the butlers and these pretty ladies, all saying one more harmonious good-bye. The young girls dress in kimonos of wool muslin of the brightest colors and designs which are conceivable even to the Japanese imagination. They look like a very profusely blooming garden of old fashioned perennials.
The garden is indescribable. I had some fancy of what a Japanese garden would look like, but find it is nothing at all beside the reality. This place is big and the grass is now brown. Most of the grass is covered with a thick carpet of pine needles and at the edge of the pine needle carpet a rope of twisted straw outlines graceful curves. The use of the big stones is the most surprising part of the whole. They are very old and weather-stained, of many shades of gray and blue-gray, with the short shrubs for a background, and the severity and simplicity of the result has a classic beauty which we may attain in centuries, and only after we have consumed our abundance of things material.
Then we went to dinner at the house of Professor M——. There are six children in his family, the oldest a man of about twenty-five, a graduate of the Imperial University, now a factory inspector for the government; he speaks eight languages. One of these is Esperanto, which is his hobby. The French Professors were there also, two of them, a clever and amusing pair, who did their duty in talking, and the young man spoke better than any of us and with an excellent pronunciation. He has never been out of Japan. Two little girls and a young boy appeared after dinner and made their pretty bows to the floor, and then went to a low table and squatted and played Go the rest of the evening. Go is the famous shell game. Go means five and it is a game of fives, but ask me no more, except that the men are 364 in number and you play it on an expanded checker board. There was an endless succession of food and drinks and we did not leave till nearly eleven. Japanese families have many nice drinks which we do not. Theirs are perhaps no better than our best ones, but they add to the pleasant variety of non-alcoholic drinks. Besides those we had two wines.
This was the dinner as near as I can remember. A menu card was at each plate and I fancy they were intended as souvenirs for the foreign guests, but I forgot to take mine, if that was their purpose. We had soup, bread of two kinds, and butter. Then fish patties, then little birds, boned, on toast with a vegetable, then ramekins of Japanese macaroni, which is not like ours. Next roast beef, very tender fillet, with potato balls, peas, gravy, another vegetable forgot, and salad, white and red wine, coming after the orange cider. Then a delicious pudding, then cake and strawberries. Those berries are raised out of doors. They are planted between rows of stones which are heated artificially, I did not quite understand how, the vines being kept from touching the stones by low bamboo trellises. Whipped cream served with the berries. Then delicious coffee in foreign style.
After dinner we leave the reception room in foreign style and go upstairs to the big Japanese room, sit by the hibashi or the grate, and here the children come. At once tea is served. Then just as we were starting for home we were urged to stay for a drink, which was more orange cider, very sweet, and bottled waters, which are so good and come from the many natural springs. One of the amusements of the Japanese is seeing the foreign visitors try to sit, and you can't wonder they are amused. I can manage it, in awkward fashion, but your father can't even bend for the pose. On Sunday we sat for two hours in the presence of the greatest Buddhist priest in Japan, and you can guess whether we wriggled and if my feet were asleep if you try the pose for a few minutes yourself, even on a nice soft cushion as we were. Getting up properly is the hardest part of it.
TOKYO, Tuesday, March 4.
Our friends took us to Kamakura; it isn't interesting reading these things in advance in guide books, so I don't think a description will be interesting, but something over seven hundred years ago, the first Shogun rulers settled there and made it their capital, of which nothing is now left save the Buddhist temples. We met on the train going down the professor of Japanese literature in the University, who was going there because it was the seventh hundred anniversary of a Shogun who wrote poetry, and the professor was going over to lecture on his poems. Also we ran across several hundred school children, boys and girls with their teachers, who were spending Sunday seeing the historic sights. One of the big temples to the god of war was a kind of museum, with old swords and masks and things in it. They took us to call on the Reverend Shaku, who is the head of the Zen sect of Buddhists in Japan, and who talked—including the interpreter—about two hours, in answer to questions about Buddhism, especially his variety. It was very interesting. We were ushered into a Japanese room, beautiful proportions, a lovely kakemono in the alcove—it's a scroll, not a kimono—and a five-legged little table made of metal with mother-of-pearl inlay. Otherwise nothing but the room with gorgeous blue and gold chrysanthemums alternating on the paneled ceiling and five silk cushions scattered around for us to sit on, and a single one at the end of the room for him. In about five minutes another screen door opened and he appeared in a gorgeous but simple flowing robe, copper colored. Then tea and sponge cake—meantime the talk fest had begun. Incidentally I should remark that the bowing and kneeling of the servants looks much more natural and less servile when you see people seated on the floor, and the servants have to kneel to hand them anything. His personality is that of a scholarly type, rather ascetic, not over refined, but not in the least sleek like some of our Hindu swamis, and very charming. When we left he thanked us for coming and expressed his great satisfaction that he had made some friends. His talk was largely moral but with a high metaphysical flavor, somewhat elusive, and reminding one of Royce. Well it was an experience worth having, as he is reputed the most learned and representative Buddhist in Japan, and as I have remarked before, seeing is quite different from reading. He was more modern than Royce in one respect; he said God is the moral ideal in man and as man develops the divine principle does also. We saw the big fifty-foot bronze statue of Buddha, in some respects the most celebrated single thing in Japan and again one you have to see. It is as impressive as a cathedral.
We have been to a dinner party since I began this. Our host seems to be a universal genius—a member of the house of peers, an authority on education, an orchid fancier, a painter and I don't know what. There were over twenty at table, and our health was drunk in champagne with a little speech, and two members of the cabinet were there. The Countess is the mother of eight children, and looks about thirty and very pretty for thirty. Three or four of the little girls were about before and after dinner, and, like several of the little girls of the new generation, are as spontaneous and natural as you would wish. Acquired characteristics are certainly hereditary in Japan, for even the most lively and spontaneous children are civilized. Whatever else you think about the Japanese they are about the most highly civilized people on earth, perhaps overcultivated. I asked Mamma when these girls would undergo the clammifying process and have all their life taken out of them, and she said never for these girls.
President Naruse died this morning; as he had cancer, it was fortunate he did not linger longer. He was one of the most remarkable men in Japan. Two days before he died the Empress sent him a present of five thousand dollars for his school—a very great tribute and one which will help the cause of woman's education. Speaking of this family where we dined, you can judge of the high aristocracy of our hosts of the evening by the fact that when they showed us the dolls' festival, there were some fine ones which had been sent the Countess by the Imperial Princesses. The dolls by the way are never played with—they are works of art and history to look at. These children got out their American dolls, of which they had ten, to show Mamma.
I have now given three lectures. They are a patient race; there is still a good-sized audience, probably five hundred. We are gradually getting a superficial acquaintance with a good many people, and if I could get two or three weeks free from lectures to prepare I could make a business of finding things out, but as it is I only accumulate certain impressions. There is no doubt a great change is going on; how permanent it will be depends a good deal upon how the rest of the world behaves. If it doesn't live up to its peaceful and democratic professions, the conservative bureaucrats and militarists, who of course are still very strong, will say we told you so and there will be a backset. But if other countries, and especially our own, behave decently, the democratizing here will go on as steadily and as rapidly as is desirable.
TOKYO, Monday, March 10.
Yesterday we had our first taste of the Noh drama. We got there before nine in the morning, and I left before two to go to Mr. Naruse's funeral, but Mamma stayed till nearly three when she had to go to speak at a school. Mamma can give you a much more intelligent idea of it than I can, but the building is a kind of barnlike structure—the Elizabethan theater with a vengeance, and no stage properties except some little live pines and a big painted one, and except costumes which are rich and expensive and the masks which are likewise. It is an acquired taste, but one which can be acquired very rapidly. If they weren't done with such extraordinary art and technique they would probably be stupid, to a foreigner anyway, but as it is they are fascinating, though it is hard to say what the source of the fascination is aside from the perfection of technique. Conscious control was certainly born and bred in Japan.
Mr. Naruse had a very strong hold on people, and his funeral was an event—all the autos and most of the 'rickshas in Tokyo must have been there, and some eight or ten speakers, and even to me who could understand nothing it was very impressive. One of the civilized things is that before the speaker bowed to the audience—and they all bowed back—he bowed to the remains, Which were in a coffin on the platform with flowers, and more flowers than at an American funeral.
We were to have gone to Baron Shibusawa's for tea and dinner this afternoon, but his influenza has gone into pneumonia.
To go back to Saturday. The reception was pleasant. We met the Americans who are educators and in the missionary schools and colleges; intelligent and well disposed, so far as I have seen. The criticism of the missionaries seems to be rather cooked up. Just now there is a fuss over them in Korea, because there is some agitation going on there for independence, and it seems to have started with Koreans who had been in missionary schools. The missionaries here seem much divided, some of them blaming the missionaries over there, saying they will bring Christianity into disrepute everywhere in Japan, and some saying that it proves Christian teaching amounts to something and that it will have a good effect in improving conditions, leading to foreign criticism and publicity, and causing the Japanese to modify their colonial policy, which seems to be under military rather than civil control. There is a rumor that the ex-Emperor of Korea didn't die a natural death, but committed suicide, with the hope of putting off or preventing the marriage of his oldest son to a Japanese princess—they were to have been married very soon. No one seems to know whether the story was invented to encourage the revolutionaries in Korea or has truth in it. Meanwhile they say the wedding is going to take place, and the Japanese are sorry for their poor princess, who is sacrificed to marry a foreigner.
Thursday evening Mamma invited the X——'s and some others, eight including ourselves, to supper in a Japanese restaurant, a beef restaurant—they are all specialized—where we not only sat on the floor and ate with chop sticks, but where the little slices of thin beefsteak were brought in raw with vegetables to flavor, and cooked over a little pan on a charcoal hibashi, one fire to each two persons. Naturally it was lots of fun, a kind of inside picnic.
Oh, yes, something happened Friday. We went to the Imperial Museum in the morning and the curator showed us about—I won't describe a museum—but on the way home we were taken into a pipe store and Mamma purchased three little Japanese pipes, ladies' pipes, to take home. Quite cunning, and the dealer said this was the first time he had ever sold anything to a foreigner, so he presented her with a little ladies' pouch and a pipe holder, both made from Holland cloth, not anything very precious, but probably worth as much as her entire purchase, certainly more than the profit on his sales. These things are quite touching and an offset to the stories about their bad business methods, because it is really a matter of hospitable courtesy to the foreigner, though he said himself they generally put the price up for the foreigner on antiques.
TOKYO, Thursday, March 14.
We have just had a mild picnic. Mamma has a slight cold, so the maids brought her supper up to her and for sociability brought mine up too. Mamma got out a Japanese phrase book and pronounced various phrases to them; to see them giggle and bend double, no theater was ever so funny. When I got to my last bite, I inquired the name of the food, and said it and "Sayonara"—good night. This old gag was a triumph of humor. They are certainly a good-natured people. I have watched the children come out from a public school near here, and never yet have I seen a case of bullying or even of teasing, except of a very good-natured kind, no quarreling and next to no disputing. Yet they are sturdy little things and no mollycoddles. To see a boy of ten or twelve playing tag and jumping ditches with a boy strapped to his back is a sight. There are no public rebukes or scoldings of the children or even cross words, to say nothing of slappings, no nagging, at least not in public. Some would say that the children are not scolded because they are good, but it is a fair guess that it is the other way. But it must be admitted that so far as amiable exterior and cheerfulness and courtesy is concerned, they have no bad examples set them. Some foreigners say all this is only skin deep, but the manners of the foreigners who say these things aren't any too good even from our standards. Anyway, skin deep is better than nothing and good as far as it goes. However, the Japanese say that their courtesy is reserved for their friends and people they know, not that they have bad manners to strangers, but that they pay no attention to them, and won't go out of their way to do anything for them.
I told about the man who made Mamma a present when she bought the pipes. Yesterday we were in that region and Mamma went in again and bought another, and paid him a compliment on what people said about the present. Whereupon he gets up and fishes out another more valuable pouch, somewhat ragged and old, the kind the actors now use on the stage, and offers it. Mamma naturally tries to avoid it, but can't. He informs her through the friend with us that he likes Americans very much. An international matter having been made of it, the pouch is accepted, and now we have to think up some present to give him. However, we have told this story to several Americans here, and they say they have never heard anything like it.
We were to have gone to the Peeress's School this morning, an appointment having been made to show us about. Mamma's cold preventing her going, we had somebody 'phone to see if the time could be changed. And this afternoon appear for her some lovely lilies and amaryllis—these being from people we had never seen. A Freudian would readily infer how bad my own manners are from the amount I talk about this.
We went to a Japanese restaurant for supper. This was a fish restaurant, and we cooked the fish and vegetables ourselves, but over gas, not charcoal this time. Then we had side dishes, fish, lobster, etc., innumerable. Instead of bringing you in a bill of fare to order from, the coolie brings a big tray with samples of everything on it, and you help yourself. One thing was abalones on the half shell, these being babies, about like our clams, but not so tough, to say nothing of as tough as the big ones. I didn't try the fried devil fish and other luxuries, but wandered pretty far afield. When you have leisure, try eating lobster in the shell with chop sticks. You will resort to something more ancient than chop sticks, as I did. This restaurant is quite plebeian, though it has a great reputation for its secret recipe for the sauce the fish is cooked in, but it was considerably more expensive than the other—probably because we sampled so many side dishes; the other one cost less than five dollars for eight people—good food and all anybody could eat.
TOKYO, March 14th.
The ceremony of breakfast is over, and I am sorry again you cannot all share in these daily festivals which add so much to the dignity of living. We are now studying Japanese with the aid of the maids. I missed going to the Dolls' Festival at a private kindergarten and the result—this morning by mail a postcard from the children with numerous presents made by them, all dolls, and those I will send home, as they are interesting. With the presents they say: "We made cakes and prepared for your coming and we were in the depths of despair when you did not come. Please come another time." I am sure there is no other country in the world like this. The language is an impossible one. The way given in the phrases of the guide book is the way the man speaks. So when I stammer off those phrases the girls are literally tickled to death. When they tell me what I ought to say in the more elaborated polite way of the women, then I am floored. It is all an amusing game and relieves the watch they keep on each bite we take so as to be ready to supply more. Everything they do is marked with the kindliest attitude and every act or move is one of friendship.
This is the program for to-day: Go to lunch at the house of some missionaries, then to father's lecture at 3:30, then to dinner for University of Chicago students. To-morrow will be an open day for me and the little secretary will take me shopping. The big department store is the fashionable place where all the noble and rich buy their kimonos, and I may supplement my secondhand attempts with a new one. When I get to Kyoto I hope to find a real old one, as the new style of weave are infected with foreign influence. The other evening with Y—— we found a little shop for antiques which is a gem to look at. An old man and his wife, Y—— says he bets they are Samurai, with the politeness of real nobles, and their little place as carefully arranged for beauty as if it were their home—which it is. I broke an old Kutani plate and I inquired for one there. They had none, but we looked at their things, they with many bows, and when we left said we were sorry to have troubled them for nothing. They replied, "Please excuse us for not having the thing you wanted."
To-morrow we go to lunch here in the neighborhood with a very clever and interesting family (of a professor). None of the women call, at least none of the married ones, all being afraid of their English for one reason, but I am learning to just take things as they come and not to bother over formalities, never knowing whether that is the best way or not. The wedding of last Tuesday was the most interesting function I have seen. The marriage ceremony was the Christian one. The company represented the rich and fashionable of the city. The ladies all wear black crepe kimonos, that splendid crepe which is so heavy, next under the black is an all white of soft china silk, then the third of bright color. K——'s was that bright vermilion red. Her sleeves were not very long, as she is a mother, but the young girls wear bright colored kimonos and long sleeves that almost touch the floor. The bride wears black, too. All these dress-up kimonos have decorations in color, sometimes embroidered and sometimes dyed on the lower points of the front. The bride's was spread out on the floor around her just like the old pictures, embroidered in heavy rose peonies, her undergarment and the lining of the black, in rose color. Her hair was done in the old conventional way shown in the prints with the long pins of light tortoise shell with bouquets of tiny flowers carved at the ends, which stuck out about three inches, making a crown over her head. The receiving party is as follows: First, father of groom; second, mother of bride; third, groom; fourth, bride; fifth, father of bride; sixth, mother of groom. The line is straight and the bride is perfectly arranged like an old print, she and the groom with their eyes cast down. As each person passes, they make bows all along the line at once, but they do not move hand or eyes or a fold of these perfect clothes. I forgot to say the men, unfortunately, wear European dress. Then we moved on to two large rooms, the men all seated and smoking in one, and the women in the other. Those who knew me were very kind. Countess H—— introduced me to the bridesmaids; at least they would be the maids at home. They were the sisters and young relatives all dressed in the most brilliant kimonos and embroidered and decorated to the limit; they looked like all the parrots and peacocks and paradise and blue birds and every lovely color imaginable, while the uniform black of the guests, decorated with the pure white of their crests which stand out in such a group, formed the perfect background, free from all the messiness which is so apparent in a diversified gathering of all sorts of color and shape and materials in our land. At tea, which was very elaborate and taken sitting at the tables, the family of the two filled one table, a long one at the end of the room. The bride now wore a green kimono, equally brilliant; about two feet away from her sat the groom, both in the middle of the long table.
TOKYO, Thursday, March 20.
We have had a number of social events this week. Tuesday evening General H——, who speaks no English but who came over on the Shinyo with us, gave a party for us in the gardens of the Arsenal Grounds. We could not have entered the Arsenal Grounds in any other way. There were about twenty-five people there, mostly Christian Association people, and the clergyman of the Japanese church where I had spoken the night before. He is keen about introducing more democracy in Japan, and I spoke on the moral meaning of democracy. Well, the garden isn't a garden at all in our sense, but a park, and the finest in Tokyo outside of the Imperial ones. It is quite different from the miniature ones we know as Japanese gardens, being of fair size, with none of those cunning little imitations in it; big imitations there are in plenty, as it was a fad of the old landscapists, as you might know, to reproduce on a small scale celebrated scenes elsewhere. The old Daimyo, who built this one two hundred years ago, was a great admirer of the Chinese and reproduced several famous Chinese landscapes as well as one from Kyoto. The extraordinary thing is the amount of variety they get in a small space; they could reproduce the earth, including the Alps and a storm in the Irish Channel, if they had Central Park. Every detail counts; it is all so artistically figured out and every little rock has a meaning of its own so that a barbarian can only get a surface view. It would have to be studied like an artist's masterpiece to take it all in. The arsenal factory fumes have killed many of the old trees and much of the glory has departed.
Probably Mamma has written you that she has one young woman, Japanese, coming on the ship with us under her care, to New York to study; and to-day another young lady called, and said she wanted to go back to America. About the young women going home with us, Y—— said we would have to be careful, as one time his mother was offered seventeen damsels to escort when she was going over, of whom she took three. You may not appreciate the fact that going to America to study means practically giving up marriage; they will be old maids and out of it by the time they return—also those who have been in America do not take kindly to having a marriage arranged for them. At a lecture I listened to yesterday, a Japanese woman, close to thirty, was pointed out to me as about to get married to an American architect here. There are exceptions, but this case is evidently a famous romance. The lecture was on Social Aspects of Shinto; Shinto is the official cult though not the established religion of Japan. Although nothing is said that wasn't scientifically a matter of course to be said—I mean supposing it was scientifically correct—one of the most interesting things was the caution that was taken to avoid publication of anything said. On one side the Imperial Government is theocratic, and this is the most sensitive side, so that historical criticism or analysis of old documents is not indulged in, the Ancestors being Gods or the Gods being Ancestors. One bureaucratic gentleman felt sure that the divine ancestors must have left traces of their own language somewhere, so he investigated the old shrines, and sure enough he found on some of the beams characters different from Chinese or Japanese. These he copied and showed for the original language—till some carpenters saw them and explained that they were the regular guild marks.
KAMAKURA, Thursday, March 27.
This weather beats Chicago for changeableness. Monday, at midnight, it was storming rain; when we got up the next day it was the brightest, warmest day we have had. We spent it sightseeing and went out without an overcoat. The magnolia trees are in full bloom. Yesterday and to-day are as raw March days as I ever saw anywhere; there would have been frost last night but for the wind. Tuberculosis is rife here and no wonder.
Three of the University professors have called on me this morning. They wish to arrange in every detail for our movements when we leave here. I suppose I was asked twenty times how long we are to stay in Kamakura. When I said I didn't know, it depended on weather and other things, they said, "Oh, yes," and in five minutes asked the same question again. Whether they arrange everything in minute detail for themselves in advance or whether they think we are helpless foreigners I can't make out; some of both, I think. But they can't understand that we can't give an exact date for everything we are going to do till we go to China. At the same time I never knew anybody to change their own plans, especially socially, as much as they do.
There is a great anti-American drive on now; seems to be largely confined to newspapers, but also stimulated artificially somewhat, presumably by the militaristic faction, which has lost more prestige in the last few months than in years, with a corresponding gain in liberal sentiment. They have consequently found it necessary to do something to come back. Criticism of the United States is the easiest way to arrest the spread of liberal sentiments and strengthen the arguments for a big militaristic party, like twisting the lion's tail with us. Discussion about race discrimination is very active and largely directed against the United States in spite of Australia and Canada, and also in spite of the fact that Chinese and Korean immigration here is practically forbidden, and they discriminate more against the Chinese than we do against them. But consistency is not the strong point of politics in any country. Excepting on the subject of race discrimination, foreigners in contact with Japanese do not find the anti-American feeling which is expressed in papers. If the Anglo-Japanese treaty of alliance should lapse because of the League of Nations or anything else, America will be held responsible, even if the British are the cause. Two years ago there was a similar anti-British drive here, and pretty hard bargains were driven with the British ally in all war matters. Now that Germany and Russia are out of it, England has no apparent reason for snuggling up much and the shoe is on the other foot. Which makes the attack on the U.S. all the more stupid, as they are internationally quite lonely, even if they tie up with France on account of similar Russian interests, financial and otherwise.
TOKYO, Wednesday, March 28.
To-morrow we are going to Kamakura again; it is only an hour and a half from here. We are going to take a little trip into the mountain and hot-spring district also, but the cherry blossom season is much advanced, ten days earlier than usual, and we are afraid it will spring itself in our absence if we go far, so probably we shall be back here in a few days for about a week. Then we shall take a five-day trip on our way to Kyoto, going to the shrine at Ise. This is the oldest and most sacred Shinto shrine in Japan, which means that it is the central spot for imperial ancestor worship. Speaking of ancestors, you remember our references to the Count. The father of his first wife has recently been made a Baron. Parliament being over, the Count has left for the southern Island to inform the ancestors of his first wife, who are buried there, of the important item of family gossip. The oldest liberal statesman of aristocratic descent, who was quite intimate with the late Emperor, won't go to the annual meeting to celebrate the granting of the Constitution by the late Emperor because he is so disgusted that no more progress has been made in constitutionalism, and says he cannot meet his late master until he can report progress to him. Otherwise he would be ashamed to meet him as he feels responsible to the Emperor. This would not be any place for a spiritualist to earn his living. They are clear past mediums.
We have chiefly been eating lately. I had two Japanese meals, a la chop sticks, yesterday and one to-day. Luncheon yesterday at a restaurant, where we had lots of things you never heard of, to say nothing of eating them, and a dinner at a friend's. There were twelve courses at table and two or three afterwards—not counting tea, and much the same at another dinner to-night. We have a bill of fare written on fans, only in Japanese, and little silver salt cellars as souvenirs besides. One feature of both dinners was soup three times, at the beginning, about the middle and again at closing, at these functions rice is not served till near the last course. Then there were one or two semi-soupy courses thrown in. I can eat raw fish and ask no questions; and in a bird restaurant, Sunday for luncheon, I ate raw chicken wrapped in seaweed; abalone is my middle name, and some of the shell fish we eat is probably devil fish.
We have been here over six weeks now, and in taking an inventory it can be said that while we have not done as much sightseeing as some six-day tourists, I think we have seen more Japanese under normal home conditions than most Americans in six months, and have seen an unusually large number of people to talk to, not the official crowd but the representative intellectual liberals. I have seen less but found out more than I ever expected about Japanese conditions, which is quite the opposite of European experience in traveling. When I come back I shall try to see a few of the official people, since I now know enough to judge what they may say. On the whole, America ought to feel sorry for Japan, or at least sympathetic with it, and not afraid. When we have so many problems it seems absurd to say they have more, but they certainly have fewer resources, material and human, in dealing with theirs than we have, and they have still to take almost the first step in dealing with many of them. It is very unfortunate for them that they have become a first-class power so rapidly and with so little preparation in many ways; it is a terrible task for them to live up to their position and reputation and they may crack under the strain.
TOKYO, Tuesday, April 1.
The Japanese do one thing that we should do well to imitate. They teach the children in school a very nice lesson about the beauty and the responsibility of being polite and kind to the foreigner, like being so to the guests of your own house. This adds to the national dignity.
Yesterday the Emperor got out and I caught him at it. Quite an amazing and lucky experience for me and no harm to him, as I had not known he ever went out before I picked him up in the street. I went down our hill as usual with a friend to take the car. At this side of the street where the car passes, we walk across the bridge on the canal and then turn and walk one block to the car stop. When we got to the other side of the bridge all the people on both sides of the street were massed in a nice little quiet line and three policemen were carefully and gently placing each one according to his height so he could see as well as possible. So we lined in with the rest while the policeman looked on in an encouraging fashion. Nobody spoke out loud, and after I had noticed the friend with me having a conversation with the officer, I ventured to ask why we were left standing there. With the same quiet, she said: "The Emperor is passing on his way to the commencement exercises of Waseda University." Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I don't suppose I should have known what was happening at all unless I could have figured it out from the Chrysanthemums on the carriage doors. I said to her: "How is he coming, in an automobile? How long are we to stand here?" I had visions of the stories about the streets being cleared, and the doors shut for some hours while white sand was sprinkled over the car tracks, and all the rest. "No," she said, "just a little time." I saw by now that I was not likely to have much gossip poured out to me about the Emperor, so I just fixed a nice little thing about three years old in front of me and then we waited with the rest of the school children. Soon the procession came, first a body of horse in plain khaki uniforms, then one very Japanese-looking man alone on the back seat in one of the light victorias, very clean and shiny, with the Chrysanthemums on the door. He was dressed in a khaki wool uniform just like the rest of the army with a cap on his head. Then came some other shiny, light little victorias with two horses, all just alike. I rubbered my best and I had a very good look at the one little man alone in the middle of the seat, and sitting up and looking straight ahead of him pleasantly. In the midst of the passing I asked the companion with me, "Which is the Emperor?" and she answered "The one in the first carriage," and still there was that quiet of perfect breeding; and by and by all the nice little soldiers on horseback passed, and after I had stood a little longer on the edge of my bridge I started our little procession moving towards the car. The Emperor had gone the opposite way. After a little I said: "I did not know the Emperor went to commencements and things like that," and I chattered on, and then my companion said in her slow, proper, calm tone: "That is my first experience to see the Emperor, too." And I said "Is that so?" and asked some more questions, still wondering that no one had called out a Banzai nor made a sound, and it is not till to-day that I learned that all the people were standing with their eyes cast down to the ground, and that I was the only one who looked at the Emperor, and their reverence was so great that that was the reason I had not heard them breathe. For another thing, Waseda is the liberal university and private, so I wondered still till I learned then that the Emperor was going to the Peers' School commencement, and that is the one commencement he goes to every year. So you see I had luck, and my conscience was clear for having rubbered, and I have seen the Emperor.
The Imperial Garden party comes off the week after we leave Tokyo. To this party all the nobles of the third rank and above, and all the professors in the Imperial University, and all the foreigners of latest arrival, are asked. So a foreigner can go just once and no more unless a Professor. We put our names down in the Ambassador's book for an invitation before we knew all the niceties of the case. So now that we have learned that we can go once and no more, and that we are expected to go if we are invited, we will take back our request for an invitation as the party is on the 17th of April, and we are to be in Kyoto on the 15th. So in our good luck, a daughter of a Baron, who is a member of the Imperial household, has asked us to go with her to-morrow to see the Imperial Garden where the party is to be and we may see the gardens all the better. This Imperial Garden is one of the prince's gardens and not the one behind the moat where the Emperor lives. It seems the fall chrysanthemum party is in that garden, though never inside the inner moat where no one goes unless he has an audience. The moat and the surroundings of the palace are lovely, but as you can read the guide book if you want a description, I will not bore you with an attempt. The walls of the moat were built by labor of the feudal dependencies, and like all such labor it spared no pains to be splendid. Some of the moats have been filled up long ago, but there are still three around the palace. Inside the outer one you may walk part of the time and see the grand gates with their solemn guards. In these gardens the air is fresh and the birds sing in the trees, and the dust of the city never gets there.
To-night I am wearing tabi, those nice little toe socks which will not fit my feet, but which are so much nicer than the felt toe slippers that fall off your feet every time you go upstairs. As a matter of fact, I wear ordinary house slippers in this house, but it is nicer not to and we always take them off when we come in from outdoors. Truly, the Japanese are a cleaner people than we are. Have I told you we bathe in a Japanese tub? Every night a hot, very hot wooden box over three feet deep is filled for us. This one has water turned in from a faucet, but in Kamakura the little charcoal stove is in the end of the tub and the water is carried in by buckets, and is reheated each night. It seems all right and I regret all the years our country went without bath tubs, and all the fuss we made to get them when this little, simple device was all there and as old as the hills. But we can catch up with the heating and cooking with charcoal hibashi.
We have learned to eat with chop sticks very well, and it is not a bad way. The main objection I see to it is that one eats too fast, and Fletcherizing is not known in this country. The nice little way of doing your own cooking is something to introduce for cuteness in New York. These last few days we have just been sightseeing in the real European sense, running about town and buying small things all day and then having the wonderful advantage of coming back to this delightful home of perfect comfort at night, which is quite unlike Europe, and spoils us for the common lot of knocking about.
The greatest actor of the country is here. He belongs in Osaka, his name is Ganjiro, and we have a box for Thursday. The play is the one that was given in New York called "Bushido." It is much longer than as given there. It is called by another name and is acted quite differently. On Sunday we are going again to the Noh Dance, or if no good tickets are to be had for that, we are going to a theater where women act all the parts to offset the usual way here of having only men in the company. The men who act women's parts here do make up very well. They live and dress and act as women all the time so as not to lose the art. Only when they stand in pose they cannot conceal the fact that they are men. The play begins at one in the afternoon and lasts until ten at night. Tea and dinner is brought into your box in those nice little lacquer lunch boxes. Ganjiro is on the stage in every scene for eight hours, so you can see the actors work for their art here. The costumes are superb, but the actors do not simply strut to show off. Their speech being very affected in manner they have had to depend upon expression to get results, and as a consequence their acting is done with their entire body more than any other school in the world. The best ones, like the ones we are to see, can express any emotion, so 'tis said, with their backs and the calves of their legs when you can't see their faces.
TOKYO, April 1.
Our activities of late have been miscellaneous; we spent three days, counting coming and going four days, at Kamakura last week. It is on the seaside and is a great resort, summer and winter, for the Japanese, and at the hotel for Europeans over weekends. For summers the foreigners go to the mountains, while the Japanese take to the seaside, largely because there is more for the children to do on the seashore, but partly because mountains seem to be an acquired taste. Kamakura is about ten degrees warmer than Tokyo, as it is sheltered by the hills. Peas were in blossom and the cherry trees all out. It was cold and rainy while we were there, however, except one day, when we crowded in so much sightseeing we got rather tired. Mamma and I are now catching up on calls, prior to leaving and doing some sightseeing. To-day we went to a shop where they publish very fine reproductions of the old art of Japan, including Chinese paintings owned in Japan, much better worth buying than the color print reproductions to my mind, though we have laid in some reproductions of the latter. There are so many millionaires made by the war in Japan, that lots of the old lords are selling out part of their treasures now; prices I think are too high even for Americans. The old Daimyo families evidently have enough business sense to take advantage of the market, though some are hard up and sell more for that reason. A week ago we went to an auction room where there was a big collection of genuine old stuff, much finer than appears in the curio shops, and this weekend there is another big sale by a Marquis. However, it is said they keep the best things and unload on the nouveau riche; not but what a lot of it is mighty good as it is.
My other experience that I have not written about is seeing Judo. The great Judo expert is president of a normal school, and he arranged a special exhibition by experts for my benefit, he explaining the theory of each part of it in advance. It took place Sunday morning in a big Judo hall, and there were lots of couples doing "free" work, too; they are too quick for my eye in that to see anything but persons suddenly thrown over somebody's back and flopped down on the ground. It is really an art. The Professor took the old practices and studied them, worked out their mechanical principles, and then devised a graded scientific set of exercises. The system is really not a lot of tricks, but is based on the elementary laws of mechanics, a study of the equilibrium of the human body, the ways in which it is disturbed, how to recover your own and take advantage of the shiftings of the center of gravity of the other person. The first thing that is taught is how to fall down without being hurt, that alone is worth the price of admission and ought to be taught in all our gyms. It isn't a good substitute for out-of-door games, but I think it is much better than most of our inside formal gymnastics. The mental element is much stronger. In short, I think a study ought to be made here from the standpoint of conscious control. Tell Mr. Alexander to get a book by Harrison—a compatriot of his—out of the library, called "The Fighting Spirit of Japan." It is a journalist's book, not meant to be deep, but is interesting and said to be reliable as far as it goes. I noticed at the Judo the small waists of all these people; they breathe always from the abdomen. Their biceps are not specially large, but their forearms are larger than any I have ever seen. I have yet to see a Japanese throw his head back when he rises. In the army they have an indirect method of getting deep breathing which really goes back to the Buddhist Zen teaching of the old Samurai. However, they have adopted a lot of the modern physical exercises from other armies.
The gardens round here are full of cherry trees in blossom—and the streets are full of people too full of sake. The Japanese take their drunkenness apparently seasonly, as we hadn't seen drunken people till now.
TOKYO, April 2.
We have had another great day to-day. This morning rose early and wrote letters, which were not sent in spite of the haste, as we decided the slow boat was slower than waiting for a later and faster one. So you ought to get many letters at once. The day has been sunshiny and bright, but not at all sultry, so perfect for getting about. We went to the art store to get some prints which we had selected the day before and then on to call on a Professor of Political Economy, who is also a member of Parliament, radical and very wide awake and interesting, quite like an American in his energy and curiosity and interest. We visited and learned a lot about things here and there and then he took us to lunch at his mother-in-law's house. They have a beautiful house in Japanese style, with a foreign style addition, like most of the houses of the rich, the Japanese part having no resemblance whatever to the foreign, which is so much less beautiful. In carpets and table covers and tapestries imitated from the German, the Japanese have no taste, while in their own line they remain exquisite. This house is one of the most absolute cleanliness. No floor in it but shines like a mirror and has not a fleck of dust, never had one. Let me see if I can describe accurately this entertainment. We took three 'rickshas and rode through the cherry lined narrow streets over hills where are the lovely gardens of the rich showing through the gateways and showing over the top of the bamboo walls, which are built of poles about six feet long upright and tied together with cords. They are very pretty with the green. When we reached the house Mr. U—— took us in to the foreign drawing room, which is very mid-Victorian and German in its general effect. This one has in it a beautiful lacquer cabinet, very large and quite overpowering every other thing in the room. There the ladies of the house came in and made their bows, very amiable and smiling at our thanks for their hospitality. The sister-in-law, a young girl of sixteen, who wants to go to America, and afterwards the grandmother, very much the commanding character that a grandmother ought to be. The children hovered round them all much like our children. The ladies brought us tea with their own hands in lovely blue and white cups with little lacquer stands and covers. Candy with the tea, which was green. I forgot to say that we had already, during the hour with Mr. U—— had tea three different times and of three different kinds, besides little refreshments therewith. After a little we were summoned to lunch. Three places set on a low table and a beautiful blue brocade cushion to sit upon. The two younger ladies on their knees ready to serve us. They poured out wine for us, or Vermouth, and we took the latter. We had before us, each, one lacquer bowl, covered, that contained the usual fish soup with little pieces of fish and green things cut up in it. This we drink, putting the solid bits into our mouths with the chop sticks. The grandmother thought she ought to have prepared foreign food, but the clever girl of sixteen had spoken for home food, and so we thanked them for giving that to us, as we seldom get a real genuine Japanese meal. And this is the first we have had where we were served by the ladies of the house, except the dolls' food at the festival. It seems this is the highest compliment that we have had, as the real Japanese home is open to the foreigner only when the foreigner is asked to sit on the floor and is served by the ladies of the household. They kneel near the table and the maid brings the dishes and hands them to the ladies, who in turn serve the dishes to the guests. It is very pretty. I have reached the stage where I can sit on my heels for the length of a meal, but I rise very awkwardly, as my feet are asleep clear up to my knees at the end. We ate soup, cold fried lobster and shrimps, which are dipped in sauce besides; and cold vegetables in another bowl, and then hot fried fish; then some little pickles, then rice, of which the Japanese eat several bowls, then the dessert, which has been beside you all the time, and is a cold omelette, which tastes very good, and then they give you tea, Formosa oolong. We had toast, too, but that is foreign. Then we left the table and were shown the rooms upstairs, which contain many pieces of lacquer and bronze and woodwork, and then we went down and there was tea and a dish of fruit ready for us. We had not much time for this, as they were going to send us in a motor to the Imperial Gardens. But as the last kind of tea had to be brought we were at the door putting on our shoes when it arrived. This tea is strong oolong and has milk in it, with two lumps of sugar for you to put in yourself. Thus we had been served with tea six times within three hours.
It is hard to describe the Imperial Gardens. Read the guide book and you will see that it is. Ten thousand orchid plants were the beginning of the sight. We saw the lettuce and the string beans and the tomatoes and potatoes and eggplant and melons, and all growing under glass, for the Emperor to eat. Never saw such perfect lettuce, all the heads in one frame of exactly the same size and arrangement, as if they were artificial, and all the others just right. Why potatoes under glass? Don't ask me. Grapes in pots looked as if the raising of grapes under glass was in its beginning, but maybe not, as I was not familiar enough with those little vines to know whether they would bear or not. The flowers in the frames were perfection. Masses of Mignonette daisies, and some other bright flowers I did not know were ready to put out in the beds which were prepared for the garden party. We cannot go on the 17th. A very large pavilion with shingle roof under which the Emperor and Empress are to sit at the party is being built and will be taken down the next day, or rather week, as it will take more than one day. Then if it rains there will be no party. To-night it looks as if rain might spoil the blossoms. But to-day was perfect. It is a little surprising when one sees this famous garden after reading about Japanese gardens for all one's life. There is such a large expanse of grass with no flowers and the grass does not get green here so soon as with us, and it is now all brown, though big masses of daffodils are superb. These under the cherry trees with the sunshine shining through slantways made one of the brilliant sights of a lifetime. The artificial lakes and rivers and waterfall and the bridges and islands and hills with big birds walking and swimming make enough to have come for to Japan. The groups of trees are as fine as anything can be and across the long expanses the view of them is like a succession of pictures. There are a hundred and sixty-five acres in the park, no buildings. In the beginning it was pretty well to one side of the city, but now it is on a car track of much travel, though still on the outskirts on its outer edge.
On Monday we have arranged to go to the theater again at the Imperial. To-day it is the great actor Ganjiro at a small theater. It is said the jealousy of the Tokyo actors and managers keeps Ganjiro from getting a fair chance when he comes here. Mr. T——, formerly of Chicago, has just been here to try to arrange a dinner for us before we leave, the dinner to be at a restaurant with all the old students present. The restaurants are always amusing and we agreed, of course. This may keep us in Tokyo one day longer, though that is not decided yet. For the rest of the time we are to make up on calls as far as we can and ride about to see the cherry blossoms, and I hope we may see some of the famous tea houses. Thus far we have seen no tea house at all, and there is not one afternoon tea house where ladies go in this city excepting the new-fashioned department stores, and they do not stand for anything different than they do with us. This shows how little the real ladies of Tokyo go out of their houses.
The Sumida river is a big river gathering up all the small streams from one side of the mountains. It is full of junks and other craft and is the center of much history, both for Tokyo as a city and for the whole country.
TOKYO, April 4.
Ganjiro, the greatest actor from Osaka, is acting here now, and the show was great. He did the scene among other things they did in New York under the name of "Bushido." A dance by a fox who had taken the form of a man was a wonderful thing. There is no use in trying to describe it. It was not just slow posturings, like the other Japanese dances we have seen, nor was it as wild as the Russian dancers; he did it alone, no companion, male or female. But it was as free as the Russian and much more classic at the same time. You will never realize what the human hand and arm can do until you see this. He put on a number of masks and then acted or danced according to the type of mask he had on. He can do an animal's motions without any clawing—as graceful and lithe as a cat. He is a son of an old man Ganjiro.
Our last days here are rather crowded and we aren't going to get the things done that should be done. Cherry blossoms are at their height—another thing indescribable, but if dogwood trees were bigger and the blossoms were tinged with pink without being pink it would give the effect more than anything else I know. The indescribable part is the tree full of blossoms without leaves; of course you get that in the magnolias, but they are coarse where the cherry is delicate. We went to a museum to-day, which is finer in some respects than the Imperial; gods till you can't rest, and wonderful Chinese things, everything except paintings.
TOKYO, April 8.
We are actually packing up and get away to-morrow morning at 8:30—we travel all day, the first part till four o'clock on the fastest train in Japan. The ordinary trains make about fifteen miles an hour, Japan having unfortunately adopted narrow gauge in early days and going on the well-known principle of safety first. We have had various and sundry experiences since writing, the most interesting being on Sunday, when we were taken into the country both to see the cherry blossoms and the merry-makers; the time is a kind of a carnival and mild saturnalia based on bright clothes, and wigs, and sake, about ninety per cent sake. There were a few besides ourselves not intoxicated, but not many. Everybody practiced whatever English he knew on us, one dressed-up fellow informing us "I Chrallie Chaplin," and he was as good an imitation as most. Aside from one fight we saw no rudeness and not much boisterousness, the mental effect being apparently to make them confidential and demonstrative. Usually they are very reserved with one another, but Sunday it looked as if they were telling each other all their deepest secrets and life ambitions. Our host of the day laughed most benevolently all the time, not excluding when a fellow dressed in bright red woman's clothes insisted on riding on the running board. They get drunk so seldom that it didn't appeal to him so much as a drunk as it did as a popular festival; the people really were happy.
There were miles of trees planted each side of a canal that supplies Tokyo with water, all kinds of trees and in all stages of development, from no blossoms to full, no leaf and beautiful little pink leaves. The blossoms are dropping, it is almost a mild snowfall, and yet the trees seem full.