Thereupon the Heavenly

Thus we reach the common truth recognized equally by Greek art and
by Japanese art, namely, the non-moral significance of individual
expression. And our admiration of the art reflecting personality is, of
course, non-moral, since the delineation of individual imperfection is
not, in the ethical sense, a subject for admiration.

Although the facial aspects which really attract us may be considered
the outward correlatives of inward perfections, or of approaches to
perfections, we generally confess an interest in physiognomy which
by no means speaks to us of inward _moral_ perfections, but rather
suggests perfections of the reverse order. This fact is manifested even
in daily life. When we exclaim, “What force!” on seeing a head with
prominent bushy brows, incisive nose, deep-set eyes, and a massive
jaw, we are indeed expressing our recognition of force, but only of
the sort of force underlying instincts of aggression and brutality.
When we commend the character of certain strong aquiline faces,
certain so-called Roman profiles, we are really com-mending the traits
that mark a race of prey. It is true that we do not admire faces in
which only brutal, or cruel, or cunning traits exist; but it is true
also that we admire the indications of obstinacy, aggressiveness,
and harshness when united with certain indications of intelligence.
It may even be said that we associate the idea of manhood with the
idea of aggressive power more than with the idea of any other power.
Whether this power be physical or intellectual, we estimate it in our
popular preferences, at least, above the really superior powers of the
mind, and call intelligent cunning by the euphemism of “shrewdness.”
Probably the manifestation in some modern human being of the Greek
ideal of masculine beauty would interest the average observer less
than a face presenting an abnormal development of traits the reverse
of noble,–since the intellectual significance of perfect beauty could
be realized only by persons capable of appreciating the miracle of a
perfect balance of the highest possible human faculties. In modern art
we look for the feminine beauty which appeals to the feeling of sex,
or for that child-beauty which appeals to the instincts of parenthood;
and we should characterize real beauty in the portrayal of manhood not
only as unnatural, but as effeminate. War and love are still the two
dominant tones in that reflection of modern life which our serious
art gives. But it will be noticed that when the artist would exhibit
the ideal of beauty or of virtue, he is still obliged to borrow from
antique knowledge. As a borrower, he is never quite successful, since
he belongs to a humanity in many respects much below the ancient Greek
level. A German philosopher has well said, “The resuscitated Greeks
would, with perfect truth, declare our works of art in all departments
to be thoroughly barbarous.” How could they be otherwise in an age
which openly admires intelligence less because of its power to create
and preserve than because of its power to crush and destroy?

Why this admiration of capacities which we should certainly not like
to have exercised against ourselves? Largely, no doubt, because we
admire what we wish to possess, and we understand the immense value of
aggressive power, intellectual especially, in the great competitive
struggle of modern civilization.

As reflecting both the trivial actualities and the personal
emotionalism of Western life, our art would be found ethically not
only below Greek art, but even below Japanese. Greek art expressed the
aspiration of a race toward the divinely beautiful and the divinely
wise. Japanese art reflects the simple joy of existence, the perception
of natural law in form and color, the perception of natural law in
change, and the sense of life made harmonious by social order and by
self-suppression, Modern Western art reflects the thirst of pleasure,
the idea of life as a battle for the right to enjoy, and the unamiable
qualities which are indispensable to success in the competitive
struggle.

*

It has been said that the history of Western civilization is written in
Western physiognomy. It is at least interesting to study Western facial
expression through Oriental eyes. I have frequently amused myself by
showing European or American illustrations to Japanese children, and
hearing their artless comments upon the faces therein depicted. A
complete record of these comments might prove to have value as well as
interest; but for present purposes I shall offer only the results of
two experiments.

The first was with a little boy, nine years old, before whom, one
evening, I placed several numbers of an illustrated magazine. After
turning over a few of the pages, he exclaimed, “Why do foreign artists
like to draw horrible things?”

“What horrible things?” I inquired.

“These,” he said, pointing to a group of figures representing voters at
the polls.

“Why, those are not horrible,” I answered. “We think those drawings
very good.”

“But the faces! There cannot really be such faces in the world.”

“We think those are ordinary men. Really horrible faces we very seldom
draw.”

He stared in surprise, evidently suspecting that I was not in earnest.

*

To a little girl of eleven I showed some engravings representing famous
European beauties.

“They do not look bad,” was her comment. “But they seem so much like
men, and their eyes are so big!… Their mouths are pretty.”

The mouth signifies a great deal in Japanese physiognomy, and the
child was in this regard appreciative. I then showed her some drawings
from life, in a New York periodical. She asked, “Is it true that there
are people like those pictures?”

“Plenty,” I said. “Those are good, common faces,–mostly country folk,
farmers.”

“Farmers! They are like _Oni_ [demons] from the _jigoku_ [Buddhist
hell].”

“No,” I answered, “there is nothing very bad in those faces. We have
faces in the West very much worse.”

“Only to see them,” she exclaimed, “I should die! I do not like this
book.”

I set before her a Japanese picture-book,–a book of views of the
Tokaido. She clapped her hands joyfully, and pushed my half-inspected
foreign magazine out of the way.

VI

NINGYŌ-NO-HAKA

Manyemon had coaxed the child indoors, and made her eat. She appeared
to be about eleven years old, intelligent, and pathetically docile. Her
name was Iné, which means “springing rice;” and her frail slimness made
the name seem appropriate.

When she began, under Manyemon’s gentle persuasion, to tell her story,
I anticipated something queer from the accompanying change in her
voice. She spoke in a high thin sweet tone, perfectly even,–a tone
changeless and unemotional as the chanting of the little kettle over
its charcoal bed. Not unfrequently in Japan one may hear a girl or a
woman utter something touching or cruel or terrible in just such a
steady, level, penetrating tone, but never anything indifferent. It
always means that feeling is being kept under control.

“There were six of us at home,” said Iné, “mother and father and
father’s mother, who was very old, and my brother and myself, and
a little sister. Father was a _hyōguya,_ a paper-hanger: he papered
sliding-screens and also mounted kakemono. Mother was a hair-dresser.
My brother was apprenticed to a seal-cutter.

“Father and mother did well: mother made even more money than father.
We had good clothes and good food; and we never had any real sorrow
until father fell sick.

“It was the middle of the hot season. Father had always been healthy:
we did not think that his sickness was dangerous, and he did not think
so himself. But the very next day he died. We were very much surprised.
Mother tried to hide her heart, and to wait upon her customers as
before. But she was not very strong, and the pain of father’s death
came too quickly. Eight days after father’s funeral mother also died.
It was so sudden that everybody wondered. Then the neighbors told us
that we must make a _ningyō-no-haka_ at once,–or else there would be
another death in our house. My brother said they were right; but he put
off doing what they told him. Perhaps he did not have mercy enough, I
do not know; but the haka was not made.” …

*

“What is a _ningyō-no-haka_?” I interrupted.

“I think,” Manyemon made answer, “that you have seen many
_ningyō-no-haka_ without knowing what they were;–they look just
like graves of children. It is believed that when two of a family
die in the same year, a third also must soon die. There is a saying,
_Always three graves._ So when two out of one family have been buried
in the same year, a third grave is made next to the graves of those
two, and in it is put a coffin containing only a little figure of
straw,–_wara-ningyō_; and over that grave a small tombstone is set up,
bearing a kaimyō.[1] The priests of the temple to which the graveyard
belongs write the kaimyō for these little gravestones. By making a
_ningyō-no-haka_ it is thought that a death may be prevented…. We
listen for the rest, Iné.”

The child resumed:–

“There were still four of us,–grandmother, brother, myself, and my
little sister. My brother was nineteen years old. He had finished his
apprenticeship just before father died: we thought that was like the
pity of the gods for us. He had become the head of the house. He was
very skillful in his business, and had many friends: therefore he could
maintain us. He made thirteen yen the first month;–that is very good
for a seal-cutter. One evening he came home sick: he said that his head
hurt him. Mother had then been dead forty-seven days. That evening he
could not eat. Next morning he was not able to get up;–he had a very
hot fever: we nursed him as well as we could, and sat up at night to
watch by him; but he did not get better. On the morning of the third
day of his sickness we became frightened–because he began to talk to
mother. It was the forty-ninth day after mother’s death,–the day the
Soul leaves the house;–and brother spoke as if mother was calling
him:–‘Yes, mother, yes!–in a little while I shall come!’ Then he told
us that mother was pulling him by the sleeve. He would point with his
hand and call to us:-‘There she is!–there!–do you not see her? ‘We
would tell him that we could not see anything. Then he would say, ‘Ah!
you did not look quick enough: she is hiding now;–she has gone down
under the floor-mats.’ All the morning he talked like that. At last
grandmother stood up, and stamped her foot on the floor, and reproached
mother,–speaking very loud. ‘Taka!’ she said, ‘Taka, what you do is
very wrong. When you were alive we all loved you. None of us ever spoke
unkind words to you. Why do you now want to take the boy? You know
that he is the only pillar of our house. You know that if you take him
there will not be any one to care for the ancestors. You know that if
you take him, you will destroy the family name! O Taka, it is cruel!
it is shameful! it is wicked!’ Grandmother was so angry that all her
body trembled. Then she sat down and cried; and I and my little sister
cried. But our brother said that mother was still pulling him by the
sleeve. When the sun went down, he died.

“Grandmother wept, and stroked us, and sang a little song that she
made herself. I can remember it still:–

_Oy a no nai ko to_
_Hamabé no chidori:_
_Higuré-higuré ni_
_Sodé shiboru._[2]

“So the third grave was made,–but it was not a _ningyō-no-haka_;–and
that was the end of our house. We lived with kindred until winter,
when grandmother died. She died in the night,–when, nobody knew: in
the morning she seemed to be sleeping, but she was dead. Then I and my
little sister were separated. My sister was adopted by a _tatamiya,_ a
mat-maker,–one of father’s friends. She is kindly treated: she even
goes to school!”

“_Aa fushigi na koto da!–aa komatta ne?”_ murmured Manyemon. Then
there was a moment or two of sympathetic silence. Iné prostrated
herself in thanks, and rose to depart. As she slipped her feet under
the thongs of her sandals, I moved toward the spot where she had been
sitting, to ask the old man a question. She perceived my intention, and
immediately made an indescribable sign to Manyemon, who responded by
checking me just as I was going to sit down beside him.

“She wishes,” he said, “that the master will honorably strike the
matting first.”

“But why?” I asked in surprise,—noticing only that under my unshod
feet, the spot where the child had been kneeling felt comfortably warm.

Manyemon answered:–

“She believes that to sit down upon the place made warm by the body of
another is to take into one’s own life all the sorrow of that other
person,–unless the place be stricken first.”

Whereat I sat down without performing the rite; and we both laughed.

“Iné,” said Manyemon, “the master takes your sorrows upon him. He
wants “–(I cannot venture to render Manyemon’s honorifics)–“to
understand the pain of other people. You need not tear for him, Iné.”

[Footnote 1: The posthumous Buddhist name of the person buried is
chiseled upon the tomb or _haka._]

[Footnote 2: “Children without parents, like the seagulls of the
coast. Evening after evening the sleeves are wrung.” The word
_chidori–_indiscriminately applied to many kinds of birds,–is here
used for seagull. The cries of the seagull are thought to express
melancholy and desolation: hence the comparison. The long sleeve of the
Japanese robe is used to wipe the eyes as well as to hide the face in
moments of grief. To “wring the sleeve”–that is, to wring the moisture
from a tear-drenched sleeve–is a frequent expression in Japanese
poetry.]

VI

In ŌSAKA

_Takaki ya ni_
_Noborité miréba_
_Kemuri tat su;–_
_Tami no kamado wa_
_Nigiwai ni kéri._

(When I ascend a high place and look about me, lo! the smoke is rising:
the cooking ranges of the people are busy.)

_Song of the Emperor_ NINTOKU.

I

Nearly three hundred years ago, Captain John Saris, visiting Japan in
the service of the “Eight Honourable Companye, ye. marchants of London
trading into ye. East Indyes,” wrote concerning the great city of Ōsaka
(as the name is now transliterated): “We found Osaca to be a very great
towne, as great as London within the walls, with many faire timber
bridges of a great height, seruing to passe over a riuer there as wide
as the Thames at London. Some faire houses we found there, but not
many. It is one of the chiefe sea-ports of all Iapan; hauing a castle
in it, maruellous large and strong” … What Captain Saris said of the
Osaka of the seventeenth century is almost equally true of the Ōsaka
of to-day. It is still a very great city and one of the chief seaports
of all Japan; it contains, according to the Occidental idea, “some
faire houses;” it has many “faire timber bridges” (as well as bridges
of steel and stone)–“seruing to passe ouer a river as wide as the
Thames at London,”–the Yodogawa; and the castle “marvellous large and
strong,” built by Hideyoshi after the plan of a Chinese fortress of the
Han dynasty, still remains something for military engineers to wonder
at, in spite of the disappearance of the many-storied towers, and the
destruction (in 1868) of the magnificent palace.

Ōsaka is more than two thousand five hundred years old, and therefore
one of the most ancient cities of Japan,–though its present name,
a contraction of _Oye no Saka,_ meaning the High Land of the Great
River, is believed to date back only to the fifteenth century, before
which time it was called Naniwa. Centuries before Europe knew of the
existence of Japan, Osaka was the great financial and commercial centre
of the empire; and it is that still. Through all the feudal era, the
merchants of Osaka were the bankers and creditors of the Japanese
princes: they exchanged the revenues of rice for silver and gold;–they
kept in their miles of fireproof warehouses the national stores of
cereals, of cotton, and of silk;–and they furnished to great captains
the sinews of war. Hideyoshi made Osaka his military capital;–Iyeyasu,
jealous and keen, feared the great city, and deemed it necessary to
impoverish its capitalists because of their financial power.

The Ōsaka of 1896, covering a vast area has a population of about
670,000. As to extent and population, it is now only the second city
of the empire; but it remains, as Count Okuma remarked in a recent
speech, financially, industrially, and commercially superior to Tōkyō.
Sakai, and Hyōgo, and Kobé are really but its outer ports; and the
last-named is visibly outgrowing Yokohama. It is confidently predicted,
both by foreigners and by Japanese, that Kobé will become the chief
port of foreign trade, because Osaka is able to attract to herself the
best business talent of the country. At present the foreign import
and export trade of Ōsaka represents about $120,000,000 a year; and
its inland and coasting trade are immense. Almost everything which
everybody wants is made in Ōsaka; and there are few comfortable
Japanese homes in any part of the empire to the furnishing of which
Ōsaka industry has not contributed something. This was probably the
case long before Tokyo existed. There survives an ancient song of which
the burden runs,–“_Every day to Ōsaka come a thousand ships.”_ Junks
only, in the time when the song was written; steamers also to-day,
and deep-sea travelers of all rigs. Along the wharves you can ride
for miles by a seemingly endless array of masts and funnels,–though
the great Trans-Pacific liners and European mail-steamers draw too
much water to enter the harbor, and receive their Ōsaka freight at
Kobé. But the energetic city, which has its own steamship companies,
now proposes to improve its port, at a cost of 116,000,000. An Ōsaka
with a population of two millions, and a foreign trade of at least
$300,000,000 a year, is not a dream impossible to realize in the next
half century. I need scarcely say that Ōsaka is the centre of the
great trade-guilds,[1] and the headquarters of those cotton-spinning
companies whose mills, kept running with a single shift twenty-three
hours out of the twenty-four, turn out double the quantity of yarn per
spindle that English mills turn out, and from thirty to forty per cent,
more than the mills of Bombay.

Every great city in the world is believed to give a special character
to its inhabitants; and in Japan the man of Ōsaka is said to be
recognizable almost at sight. I think it can be said that the character
of the man of the capital is less marked than that of the man of
Ōsaka,–as in America the man of Chicago is more quickly recognized
than the New Yorker or Bostonian. He has a certain quickness of
perception, ready energy, and general air of being “well up to date,”
or even a little in advance of it, which represent the result of
industrial and commercial intercompetition. At all events, the Ōsaka
merchant or manufacturer has a much longer inheritance of business
experience than his rival of the political capital. Perhaps this may
partly account for the acknowledged superiority of Ōsaka commercial
travelers; a modernized class, offering some remarkable types. While
journeying by rail or steamer you may happen to make the casual
acquaintance of a gentleman whose nationality you cannot safely decide
even after some conversation. He is dressed with the most correct taste
in the latest and best mode; he can talk to you equally well in French,
German, or English; he is perfectly courteous, but able to adapt
himself to the most diverse characters; he knows Europe; and he can
give you extraordinary information about parts of the Far East which
you have visited, and also about other parts of which you do not even
know the names. As for Japan, he is familiar with the special products
of every district, their comparative merits, their history. His face
is pleasing,–nose straight or slightly aquiline,–mouth veiled by
a heavy black moustache: the eye-lids alone give you some right to
suppose that you are conversing with an Oriental. Such is one type of
the Ōsaka commercial traveler of 1896,–a being as far superior to
the average Japanese petty official as a prince to a lackey. Should
you meet the same man in his own city, you would probably find him in
Japanese costume,–dressed as only a man of fine taste can learn how to
dress, and looking rather like a Spaniard or Italian in disguise than a
Japanese.

[Footnote 1: There are upwards of four hundred commercial companies in
Osaka.]

II

From the reputation of Ōsaka as a centre of production and
distribution, one would imagine it the most modernized, the least
characteristically Japanese, of all Japanese cities. But Ōsaka is the
reverse. Fewer Western costumes are to be seen in Ōsaka than in any
other large city of Japan. No crowds are more attractively robed, and
no streets more picturesque, than those of the great mart.

Ōsaka is supposed to set many fashions; and the present ones show an
agreeable tendency to variety, of tint. When I first came to Japan
the dominant colors of male costume were dark,–especially dark blue;
any crowd of men usually presenting a mass of this shade. To-day the
tones are lighter; and greys–warm greys, steel greys, bluish greys,
purplish greys–seem to predominate. But there are also many pleasing
variations,–bronze-colors, gold-browns, “tea-colors,” for example.
Women’s costumes are of course more varied; but the character of the
fashions for adults of either sex indicates no tendency to abandon the
rules of severe good taste;–gay colors appearing only in the attire
of children and of dancing-girls,–to whom are granted the privileges
of perpetual youth. I may observe that the latest fashion in the silk
upper-dress, or _haori,_ of geisha, is a burning sky–blue,–a tropical
color that makes the profession of the wearer distinguishable miles
away. The higher-class geisha, however, affect sobriety in dress. I
must also speak of the long overcoats or overcloaks worn out-of-doors
in cold weather by both sexes. That of the men looks like an adaptation
and modification of our “ulster,” and has a little cape attached to it:
the material is wool, and the color usually light brown or grey. That
of the ladies, which has no cape, is usually of black broadcloth, with
much silk binding, and a collar cut low in front. It is buttoned from
throat to feet, and looks decidedly genteel, though left very wide and
loose at the back to accommodate the bow of the great heavy silk girdle
beneath.

*

Architecturally not less than fashionably, Ōsaka remains almost as
Japanese as anybody could wish. Although some wide thoroughfares exist,
most of the streets are very narrow,–even more narrow than those of
Kyōto. There are streets of three-story houses and streets of two-story
houses; but there are square miles of houses one story high. The great
mass of the city is an agglomeration of low wooden buildings with
tiled roofs. Nevertheless the streets are more interesting, brighter,
quainter in their signs and sign-painting, than the streets of Tōkyō;
and the city as a whole is more picturesque than Tōkyō because of its
waterways. It has not inaptly been termed the Venice of Japan; for it
is traversed in all directions by canals, besides being separated into
several large portions by the branchings of the Yodogawa. The streets
facing the river are, however, much less interesting than the narrow
canals.

Anything more curious in the shape of a street vista than the view
looking down one of these waterways can scarcely be found in Japan.
Still as a mirror surface, the canal flows between high stone
embankments supporting the houses,–houses of two or three stories, all
sparred out from the stonework so that their façades bodily overhang
the water. They are huddled together in a way suggesting pressure from
behind; and this appearance of squeezing and crowding is strengthened
by the absence of regularity in design,–no house being exactly like
another, but all having an indefinable Far-Eastern queerness,–a sort
of racial character,–that gives the sensation of the very-far-away in
place and time. They push out funny little galleries with balustrades;
barred, projecting, glassless windows with elfish balconies under
them, and rootlets over them like eyebrows; tiers of tiled and tilted
awnings; and great eaves which, in certain hours, throw shadows down
to the foundation. As most of the timber-work is dark,–either with
age or staining,–the shadows look deeper than they really are. Within
them you catch glimpses of balcony pillars, bamboo ladders from gallery
to gallery, polished angles of joinery,–all kinds of jutting things.
At intervals you can see mattings hanging out, and curtains of split
bamboo, and cotton hangings with big white ideographs upon them; and
all this is faithfully repeated upside down in the water. The colors
ought to delight an artist,–umbers and chocolates and chestnut-browns
of old polished timber; warm yellows of mattings and bamboo screens;
creamy tones of stuccoed surfaces; cool greys of tiling…. The last
such vista I saw was bewitched by a spring haze. It was early morning.
Two hundred yards from the bridge on which I stood, the house fronts
began to turn blue; farther on, they were transparently vapory; and
yet farther, they seemed to melt away suddenly into the light,–a
procession of dreams. I watched the progress of a boat propelled by
a peasant in straw hat and straw coat,–like the peasants of the
old picture-books. Boat and man turned bright blue and then grey,
and then, before my eyes,—-glided into Nirvana. The notion of
immateriality so created by that luminous haze was supported by the
absence of sound; for these canal-streets are as silent as the streets
of shops are noisy.

*

No other city in Japan has so many bridges as Ōsaka: wards are named
after them, and distances marked by them,–reckoning always from
Koraibashi, the Bridge of the Koreans, as a centre. Ōsaka people find
their way to any place most readily by remembering the name of the
bridge nearest to it. But as there are one hundred and eighty-nine
principal bridges, this method of reckoning can be of little service
to a stranger. If a business man, he can find whatever he wants
without learning the names of the bridges. Ōsaka is the best-ordered
city, commercially, in the empire, and one of the best-ordered in the
world. It has always been a city of guilds; and the various trades
and industries are congregated still, according to ancient custom, in
special districts or particular streets. Thus all the money-changers
are in Kitahama,–the Lombard Street of Japan; the dry-goods trade
monopolizes Honmachi; the timber merchants are all in Nagabori
and Nishi-Yokobori; the toy-makers are in Minami Kiuhojimachi and
Kita Midōmae; the dealers in metal wares have Andojibashidōri to
themselves; the druggists are in Doshiōmachi, and the cabinet-makers
in Hachimansuji. So with many other trades; and so with the places of
amusement. The theatres are in the Dōtombori; the jugglers, singers,
dancers, acrobats, and fortune-tellers in the Sennichimae, close by.

The central part of Ōsaka contains many very large
buildings,–including theatres, refreshment-houses, and hotels having
a reputation throughout the country. The number of edifices in Western
style is nevertheless remarkably small. There are indeed between
eight and nine hundred factory chimneys; but the factories, with few
exceptions, are not constructed on Western plans. The really “foreign”
buildings include a hotel, a prefectual hall with a mansard roof, a
city hall with a classical porch of granite pillars, a good modern
post-office, a mint, an arsenal, and sundry mills and breweries.
But these are so scattered and situated that they really make no
particular impression at variance with the Far-Eastern character
of the city. However, there is one purely foreign corner,–the old
Concession, dating back to a time before Kobé existed. Its streets
were well laid out, and its buildings solidly constructed; but for
various reasons it has been abandoned to the missionaries,–only one
of the old firms, with perhaps an agency or two, remaining open. This
deserted settlement is an oasis of silence in the great commercial
wilderness.[1] No at-tempts have been made by the native merchants to
imitate its styles of building: indeed, no Japanese city shows less
favor than Ōsaka to Occidental architecture. This is not through want
of appreciation, but because of economical experience. Ōsaka will
build in Western style–with stone, brick, and iron–only when and
where the advantage of so doing is indubitable. There will be no
speculation in such constructions, as there has been at Tōkyō: Ōsaka
“goes slow” and invests upon certainties. When there is a certainty,
her merchants can make remarkable offers,–like that to the government
two years ago of $56,000,000 for the purchase and reconstruction of a
railway. Of all the houses in Osaka, the office of the “Asahi Shimbun”
most surprised me. The “Asahi Shimbun” is the greatest of Japanese
newspapers,–perhaps the greatest journal published in any Oriental
language. It is an illustrated daily, conducted very much like a Paris
newspaper,–publishing a _feuilleton,_ translations from foreign
fiction, and columns of light, witty chatter about current events. It
pays big sums to popular writers, and spends largely for correspondence
and telegraphic news. Its illustrations–now made by a woman–offer as
full a reflection of all phases of Japanese life, old or new, as Punch
gives of English life. It uses perfecting presses, charters special
trains, and has a circulation reaching into most parts of the empire.
So I certainly expected to find the “Asahi Shimbun” office one of
the handsomest buildings in Ōsaka. But it proved to be an old-time
Samurai-yashiki,–about the most quiet and modest-looking place in the
whole district where it was situated.

I must confess that all this sober and sensible conservatism delighted
me. The competitive power of Japan must long depend upon her power to
maintain the old simplicity of life.

[Footnote 1: The foreign legations left Ōsaka to take shelter at
Kobé in 1868, during the civil war; for they could not be very well
protected by their men-of-war in Ōsaka. Kobé once settled, the
advantages offered by its deep harbor settled the fate of the Ōsaka
Concession.]

III

Ōsaka is the great commercial school of the empire. From all parts of
Japan lads are sent there to learn particular branches of industry
or trade. There are hosts of applications for any vacancy; and the
business men are said to be very cautious in choosing their _detchi,_
or apprentice-clerks. Careful inquiries are made as to the personal
character and family history of applicants. No money is paid by the
parents or relatives of the apprentices. The term of service varies
according to the nature of the trade or industry; but it is generally
quite as long as the term of apprenticeship in Europe; and in some
branches of business it may be from twelve to fourteen years. Such,
I am told, is the time of service usually exacted in the dry goods
business; and the detchi in a dry goods house may have to work fifteen
hours a day, with not more than one holiday a month. During the whole
of his apprenticeship he receives no wages whatever,–nothing but
his board, lodging, and absolutely necessary clothing. His master is
supposed to furnish him with two robes a year, and to keep him in
sandals, or geta. Perhaps on some great holiday he may be presented
with a small gift of pocket money;–but this is not in the bond. When
his term of service ends, however, his master either gives him capital
enough to begin trade for himself on a small scale, or finds some
other way of assisting him substantially,–by credit, for instance.
Many detchi marry their employers’ daughters, in which event the young
couple are almost sure of getting a good start in life.

The discipline of these long apprenticeships may be considered a severe
test of character. Though a detchi is never addressed harshly, he has
to bear what no European clerk would bear. He has no leisure,–no time
of his own except the time necessary for sleep; he must work quietly
but steadily from dawn till late in the evening; he must content
himself with the simplest diet, must keep himself neat, and must never
show ill-temper. Wild oats he is not supposed to have, and no chance is
given him to sow them. Some detchi never even leave their shop, night
or day, for months at a time,–sleeping on the same mats where they
sit in business hours. The trained salesmen in the great silk stores
are especially confined within doors,–and their unhealthy pallor is
proverbial. Year after year they squat in the same place, for twelve or
fifteen hours every day; and you wonder why their legs do not fall off,
like those of Daruma.[1]

Occasionally there are moral break-downs. Perhaps a detchi
misappropriates some of the shop money, and spends the same in riotous
living. Perhaps he does even worse. But, whatever the matter may be,
he seldom thinks of running away. If he takes a spree, he hides himself
after it for a day or two;–then returns of his own accord to confess,
and ask pardon. He will be forgiven for two, three, perhaps even four
escapades,–provided that he shows no signs of a really evil heart,
-and be lectured about his weakness in its relation to his prospects,
to the feelings of his family, to the honor of his ancestors, and to
business requirements in general. The difficulties of his position are
kindly considered, and he is never discharged for a small misdemeanor.
A dismissal would probably ruin him for life; and every care is taken
to open his eyes to certain dangers. Ōsaka is really the most unsafe
place in Japan to play the fool in;–its dangerous and vicious classes
are more to be feared than those of the capital; and the daily news of
the great city furnishes the apprentice with terrible examples of men
reduced to poverty or driven to self-destruction through neglect of
those very rules of conduct which it is part of his duty to learn.

In cases where detchi are taken into service at a very early age, and
brought up in the shop almost like adopted sons, a very strong bond
of affection between master and apprentice is sometimes established.
Instances of extraordinary devotion to masters, or members of masters’
households, are often reported. Sometimes the bankrupt merchant is
reëstablished in business by his former clerk. Sometimes, again, the
affection of a detchi may exhibit itself in strange extremes. Last
year there was a curious case. The only son of a merchant–a lad of
twelve–died of cholera during the epidemic. A detchi of fourteen, who
had been much attached to the dead boy, committed suicide shortly after
the funeral by throwing himself down in front of a train. He left a
letter, of which the following is a tolerably close translation,–the
selfish pronouns being absent in the original:

_”Very long time in, august help received;–honorable mercy even, not
in words to be declared. Now going to die, unfaithful in excess;–yet
another state in, making rebirth, honorable mercy will repay. Spirit
anxious only in the matter of little sister O-Noto;–with humble
salutation, that she be honorably seen to, supplicate._

_”To the August Lord Master,_

_”From_

_”MANO YOSHIMATSU.”_

[Footnote 1: In Japanese popular legend, Daruma (Bodhidharma), the
great Buddhist patriarch and missionary, is said to have lost his legs
during a meditation which lasted uninterruptedly for nine years. A
common child’s toy is a comical figure of Daruma, without legs, and so
weighted within that, no matter how thrown down, it will always assume
an upright position.]

IV

It is not true that Old Japan is rapidly disappearing. It cannot
disappear within at least another hundred years; perhaps it will never
entirely disappear. Many curious and beautiful things have vanished;
but Old Japan survives in art, in faith, in customs and habits, in
the hearts and the homes of the people: it may be found everywhere
by those who know how to look for it,–and nowhere more easily than
in this great city of ship-building, watch-making, beer-brewing, and
cotton-spinning. I confess that I went to Ōsaka chiefly to see the
temples, especially the famous Tennōji.

Tennōji, or, more correctly, Shitennōji, the Temple of the Four Deva
Kings,[1] is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan. It was
founded early in the seventh century by Umayado-no-Oji, now called
Shōtoku Taishi, son of the Emperor Yōmei, and prince regent under the
Empress Suiko (572-621 A. D.). He has been well called the Constantine
of Japanese Buddhism; for he decided the future of Buddhism in the
Empire, first by a great battle in the reign of his father, Yomei
Tennō, and afterwards by legal enactments and by the patronage of
Buddhist learning. The previous Emperor, Bitatsu Tennō, had permitted
the preaching of Buddhism by Korean priests, and had built two temples.
But under the reign of Yomei, one Mononobé no Moriya, a powerful
noble, and a bitter opponent of the foreign religion, rebelled against
such tolerance, burned the temples, banished the priests, and offered
battle to the imperial forces. These, tradition says, were being driven
back when the Emperor’s son–then only sixteen years old–vowed if
victorious to build a temple to the Four Deva Kings. Instantly at his
side in the fight there towered a colossal figure from before whose
face the powers of Moriya broke and fled away. The rout of the enemies
of Buddhism was complete and terrible; and the young prince, thereafter
called Shōtoku Taishi, kept his vow. The temple of Tennōji was built,
and the wealth of the rebel Moriya applied to its maintenance. In that
part of it called the Kondō, or Hall of Gold, Shōtoku Taishi enshrined
the first Buddhist image ever brought to Japan,–a figure of Nyo-i-rin
Kwannon, or Kwannon of the Circle of Wishes,–and the statue is still
shown to the public on certain festival days. The tremendous apparition
in the battle is said to have been one of the Four Kings,–Bishamon
(Vaisravana), worshiped to this day as a giver of victory.

The sensation received on passing out of the bright, narrow,
busy streets of shops into the mouldering courts of Tennōji is
indescribable. Even for a Japanese I imagine it must be like a
sensation of the supernatural,–a return in memory to the life of
twelve hundred years ago, to the time of the earliest Buddhist mission
work in Japan. Symbols of the faith, that elsewhere had become for
me conventionally familiar, here seemed but half familiar, exotic,
prototypal; and things never before seen gave me the startling
notion of a time and place out of existing life. As a matter of fact,
very little remains of the original structure of the temple; parts
have been burned, parts renovated. But the impression is still very
peculiar, because the rebuilders and the renovators always followed
the original plans, made by some great Korean or Chinese architect.
Any attempt to write of the antique aspect, the queer melancholy
beauty of the place, would be hopeless. To know what Tennōji is, one
must see the weirdness of its decay,–the beautiful neutral tones of
old timbers, the fading spectral greys and yellows of wall-surfaces,
the eccentricities of disjointing, the extraordinary carvings under
eaves,–carvings of waves and clouds and dragons and demons, once
splendid with lacquer and gold, now time-whitened to the tint of smoke,
and looking as if about to curl away like smoke and vanish. The most
remarkable of these carvings belong to a fantastic five-storied pagoda,
now ruinous: nearly all the brazen wind-bells suspended to the angles
of its tiers of roofs have fallen. Pagoda and temple proper occupy a
quadrangular court surrounded by an open cloister. Beyond are other
courts, a Buddhist school, and an immense pond peopled by tortoises and
crossed by a massive stone bridge. There are statues and stone lamps
and lions and an enormous temple-drum;–there are booths for the sale
of toys and oddities;–there are resting-places where tea is served,
and cake-stands where you can buy cakes for the tortoises or for a pet
deer, which approaches the visitor, bowing its sleek head to beg. There
is a two-storied gateway guarded by huge images of the Ni-Ō,–Ni-Ō
with arms and legs muscled like the limbs of kings in the Assyrian
sculptures, and bodies speckled all over with little balls of white
paper spat upon them by the faithful. There is another gateway whose
chambers are empty;–perhaps they once contained images of the Four
Deva Kings. There are ever so many curious things; but I shall only
venture to describe two or three of my queerest experiences.

First of all, I found the confirmation of a certain suspicion that had
come to me as I entered the temple precincts,–the suspicion that the
forms of worship were peculiar as the buildings. I can give no reason
for this feeling; I can only say that, immediately after passing the
outer gate, I had a premonition of being about to see the extraordinary
in religion as well as in architecture. And I presently saw it in the
bell-tower,–a two-story Chinese-looking structure, where there is
a bell called the Indō-no-Kane, or Guiding-Bell, because its sounds
guide the ghosts of children through the dark. The lower chamber of
the bell-tower is fitted up as a chapel. At the first glance I noticed
only that a Buddhist service was going on; I saw tapers burning, the
golden glimmer of a shrine, incense smoking, a priest at prayer,
women and children kneeling. But as I stopped for a moment before the
entrance to observe the image in the shrine, I suddenly became aware
of the unfamiliar, the astonishing. On shelves and stands at either
side of the shrine, and above it and below it and beyond it, were
ranged hundreds of children’s ihai, or mortuary tablets, and with
them thousands of toys; little dogs and horses and cows, and warriors
and drums and trumpets, and pasteboard armor and wooden swords, and
dolls and kites and masks and monkeys, and models of boats, and baby
tea-sets and baby-furniture, and whirligigs and comical images of the
Gods of Good Fortune,–toys modern and toys of fashion forgotten,–toys
accumulated through centuries,–toys of whole generations of dead
children. From the ceiling, and close to the entrance, hung down a
great heavy bell-rope, nearly four inches in diameter and of many
colors,–the rope of the Indō-Kané. _And that rope was made of the bibs
of dead children,–_yellow, blue, scarlet, purple bibs, and bibs of
all intermediate shades. The ceiling itself was invisible,–hidden from
view by hundreds of tiny dresses suspended,–dresses of dead children.
Little boys and girls, kneeling or playing on the matting beside the
priest, had brought toys with them, to be deposited in the chapel,
before the tablet of some lost brother or sister. Every moment some
bereaved father or mother would come to the door, pull the bell-rope,
throw some copper money on the matting, and make a prayer. Each time
the bell sounds, some little ghost is believed to hear,–perhaps even
to find its way back for one more look at loved toys and faces. The
plaintive murmur of _Namu Amida Butsu;_ the clanging of the bell; the
deep humming of the priest’s voice, reciting the Sutras; the tinkle
of falling coin; the sweet, heavy smell of incense; the passionless
golden beauty of the Buddha in his shrine; the colorific radiance of
the toys; the shadowing of the baby-dresses; the variegated wonder of
that bell-rope of bibs; the happy laughter of the little folk at play
on the floor,–all made for me an experience of weird pathos never to
be forgotten.

*

Not far from the bell-tower is another curious building, which shelters
a sacred spring. In the middle of the floor is an opening, perhaps ten
feet long by eight wide, surrounded by a railing. Looking down over
the railing, you see, in the dimness below, a large stone basin, into
which water is pouring from the mouth of a great stone tortoise, black
with age, and only half visible,–its hinder part reaching back into
the darkness under the floor. This water is called the Spring of the
Tortoise,–Kamé-i-Sui. The basin into which it flows is more than half
full of white paper,–countless slips of white paper, each bearing in
Chinese text the kaimyō, or Buddhist posthumous name of a dead person.
In a matted recess of the building sits a priest who for a small fee
writes the kaimyō. The purchaser–relative or friend of the dead–puts
one end of the written slip into the mouth of a bamboo cup, or rather
bamboo joint, fixed at right angles to the end of a long pole. By aid
of this pole he lowers the paper, with the written side up, to the
mouth of the tortoise, and holds it under the gush of water,–repeating
a Buddhist invocation the while,–till it is washed out into the basin.
When I visited the spring there was a dense crowd; and several kaimyō
were being held under the mouth of the tortoise;–numbers of pious
folk meantime waiting, with papers in their hands, for a chance to use
the poles. The murmuring of _Namu Amida Butsu_ was itself like the
sound of rushing water. I was told that the basin becomes filled with
kaimyō every few days;–then it is emptied, and the papers burned. If
this be true, it is a remarkable proof of the force of Buddhist faith
in this busy commercial city; for many thousands of such slips of
paper would be needed to fill the basin. It is said that the water
bears the names of the dead and the prayers of the living to Shōtoku
Taishi, who uses his powers of intercession with Amida on behalf of the
faithful.

In the chapel called the Taishi-Dō there are statues of Shōtoku Taishi
and his attend-ants. The figure of the prince, seated upon a chair
of honor, is life-size and colored; he is attired in the fashion of
twelve hundred years ago, wearing a picturesque cap, and Chinese or
Korean shoes with points turned up. One may see the same costume in the
designs upon very old porcelains or very old screens. But the face,
in spite of its drooping Chinese moustaches, is a typical Japanese
face,–dignified, kindly, passionless. I turned from the faces of the
statues to the faces of the people about me to see the same types,–to
meet the same quiet, half-curious, inscrutable gaze.

*

In powerful contrast to the ancient structures of Tennōji are the vast
Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji, almost exact counterparts of the Nishi
and Higashi Hongwanji of Tokyo. Nearly every great city of Japan has
a pair of such Hongwanji (Temples of the True Vow)–one belonging to
the Western (Nishi), the other to the Eastern (Higashi) branch of
this great Shin sect, founded in the thirteenth century.[2] Varying
in dimension according to the wealth and religious importance of the
locality, but usually built upon the same general plan, they may be
said to represent the most modern and the most purely Japanese form of
Buddhist architecture,–immense, dignified, magnificent.

But they likewise represent the almost protestant severity of the
rite in regard to symbols, icons, and external forms. Their plain
and ponderous gates are never guarded by the giant Ni-Ō;–there is
no swarming of dragons and demons under their enormous eaves;–no
golden hosts of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas rise, rank on rank, by tiers of
aureoles, through the twilight of their sanctuaries;–no curious or
touching witnesses of grateful faith are ever suspended from their high
ceilings, or hung before their altars, or fastened to the gratings of
their doorways;–they contain no ex-votos, no paper knots recording
prayer, no symbolic image but one,–and that usually small,–the figure
of Amida. Probably the reader knows that the Hongwanji sect represents
a movement in Buddhism not altogether unlike that which Unitarianism
represents in Liberal Christianity. In its rejection of celibacy and of
all ascetic practices; its prohibition of charms, divinations, votive
offerings, and even of all prayer excepting prayer for salvation; its
insistence upon industrious effort as the duty of life; its maintenance
of the sanctity of marriage as a religious bond; its doctrine of one
eternal Buddha as Father and Saviour; its promise of Paradise after
death as the immediate reward of a good life; and, above all, in its
educational zeal,–the religion of the “Sect of the Pure Land” may
be justly said to have much in common with the progressive forms of
Western Christianity, and it has certainly won the respect of the
few men of culture who find their way into the missionary legion.
Judged by its wealth, its respectability, and its antagonism to the
grosser forms of Buddhist superstition, it might be supposed the least
emotional of all forms of Buddhism. But in some respects it is probably
the most emotional. No other Buddhist sect can make such appeals to
the faith and love of the common people as those which brought into
being the amazing Eastern Hongwanji temple of Kyoto. Yet while able
to reach the simplest minds by special methods of doctrinal teaching,
the Hongwanji cult can make equally strong appeal to the intellectual
classes by reason of its scholarship. Not a few of its priests are
graduates of the leading universities of the West; and some have won
European reputations in various departments of Buddhist learning.
Whether the older Buddhist sects are likely to dwindle away before the
constantly increasing power of the Shinshū is at least an interesting
question. Certainly the latter has everything in its favor,–imperial
recognition, wealth, culture, and solidity of organization. On the
other hand, one is tempted to doubt the efficacy of such advantages
in a warfare against habits of thought and feeling older by many
centuries than Shinshū. Perhaps the Occident furnishes a precedent on
which to base predictions. Remembering how strong Roman Catholicism
remains to-day, how little it has changed since the days of Luther, how
impotent our progressive creeds to satisfy the old spiritual hunger
for some visible object of worship,–something to touch, or put close
to the heart,–it becomes difficult to believe that the iconolatry
of the more ancient Buddhist sects will not continue for hundreds of
years to keep a large place in popular affection. Again, it is worthy
of remark that one curious obstacle to the expansion of the Shinshū
is to be found in a very deeply rooted race feeling on the subject of
self-sacrifice. Although much corruption undoubtedly exists in the
older sects,–although numbers of their priests do not even pretend
to observe the vows regarding diet and celibacy,[3]–the ancient
ideals are by no means dead; and the majority of Japanese Buddhists
still disapprove of the relatively pleasurable lives of the Shinshū
priesthood. In some of the remoter provinces, where Shinshū is viewed
with especial disfavor, one may often hear children singing a naughty
song (_Shinshū bozu e mon da!),_ which might thus be freely rendered:–.

Shinshū priest to be,
–What a nice thing!
Wife has, child has,
Good fish eats.

It reminded me of those popular criticisms of Buddhist conduct uttered
in the time of the Buddha himself, and so often recorded in the Vinaya
texts,–almost like a refrain:–

“_Then the people were annoyed; and they murmured and complained,
saying: ‘These act like men who are still enjoying the pleasures of
this world!’ And they told the thing to the Blessed One._”

Besides Tennōji, Osaka has many famous temples, both Buddhist and
Shinto, with very ancient histories. Of such is Kōzu-no-yashiro, where
the people pray to the spirit of Nintoku,–most beloved in memory
of all Japanese emperors. He had a palace on the same hill where his
shrine now stands; and this site–whence a fine view of the city can be
obtained–is the scene of a pleasing legend preserved in the Kojiki:–

“Thereupon the Heavenly Sovereign, ascending a lofty
mountain and looking on the land all round, spoke,
saying:–‘In the whole land there rises no smoke; the
land is all poverty-stricken. So I remit all the people’s
taxes and forced labor from now till three years hence.’
Thereupon the great palace became dilapidated, and the
rain leaked in everywhere; but no repairs were made. The
rain that leaked in was caught in troughs, and the inmates
removed to places where there was no leakage. When later
the Heavenly Sovereign looked upon the land, the smoke was
abundant in the land. So, finding the people rich, he now
exacted taxes and forced labor. Therefore the peasantry
prospered, and did not suffer from the forced labor. So, in
praise of that august reign, it was called the Reign of the
Emperor-Sage.”[4]

That was fifteen hundred years ago. Now, could the good Emperor see,
from his shrine of Kōzu,–as thousands must believe he does,–the smoke
of modern Osaka, he might well think, “My people are becoming too rich.”

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