Unbeaten Tracks in Japan
Isabella L. Bird

Part 4 out of 6

fair. The cultus of children was in full force, all sorts of
masks, dolls, sugar figures, toys, and sweetmeats were exposed for
sale on mats on the ground, and found their way into the hands and
sleeves of the children, for no Japanese parent would ever attend a
matsuri without making an offering to his child.

The police told me that there were 22,000 strangers in Minato, yet
for 32,000 holiday-makers a force of twenty-five policemen was
sufficient. I did not see one person under the influence of sake
up to 3 p.m., when I left, nor a solitary instance of rude or
improper behaviour, nor was I in any way rudely crowded upon, for,
even where the crowd was densest, the people of their own accord
formed a ring and left me breathing space.

We went to the place where the throng was greatest, round the two
great matsuri cars, whose colossal erections we had seen far off.
These were structures of heavy beams, thirty feet long, with eight
huge, solid wheels. Upon them there were several scaffoldings with
projections, like flat surfaces of cedar branches, and two special
peaks of unequal height at the top, the whole being nearly fifty
feet from the ground. All these projections were covered with
black cotton cloth, from which branches of pines protruded. In the
middle three small wheels, one above another, over which striped
white cotton was rolling perpetually, represented a waterfall; at
the bottom another arrangement of white cotton represented a river,
and an arrangement of blue cotton, fitfully agitated by a pair of
bellows below, represented the sea. The whole is intended to
represent a mountain on which the Shinto gods slew some devils, but
anything more rude and barbarous could scarcely be seen. On the
fronts of each car, under a canopy, were thirty performers on
thirty diabolical instruments, which rent the air with a truly
infernal discord, and suggested devils rather than their
conquerors. High up on the flat projections there were groups of
monstrous figures. On one a giant in brass armour, much like the
Nio of temple gates, was killing a revolting-looking demon. On
another a daimiyo's daughter, in robes of cloth of gold with satin
sleeves richly flowered, was playing on the samisen. On another a
hunter, thrice the size of life, was killing a wild horse equally
magnified, whose hide was represented by the hairy wrappings of the
leaves of the Chamaerops excelsa. On others highly-coloured gods,
and devils equally hideous, were grouped miscellaneously. These
two cars were being drawn up and down the street at the rate of a
mile in three hours by 200 men each, numbers of men with levers
assisting the heavy wheels out of the mud-holes. This matsuri,
which, like an English fair, feast, or revel, has lost its original
religious significance, goes on for three days and nights, and this
was its third and greatest day.

We left on mild-tempered horses, quite unlike the fierce fellows of
Yamagata ken. Between Minato and Kado there is a very curious
lagoon on the left, about 17 miles long by 16 broad, connected with
the sea by a narrow channel, guarded by two high hills called
Shinzan and Honzan. Two Dutch engineers are now engaged in
reporting on its capacities, and if its outlet could be deepened
without enormous cost it would give north-western Japan the harbour
it so greatly needs. Extensive rice-fields and many villages lie
along the road, which is an avenue of deep sand and ancient pines
much contorted and gnarled. Down the pine avenue hundreds of
people on horseback and on foot were trooping into Minato from all
the farming villages, glad in the glorious sunshine which succeeded
four days of rain. There were hundreds of horses, wonderful-
looking animals in bravery of scarlet cloth and lacquer and fringed
nets of leather, and many straw wisps and ropes, with Gothic roofs
for saddles, and dependent panniers on each side, carrying two
grave and stately-looking children in each, and sometimes a father
or a fifth child on the top of the pack-saddle.

I was so far from well that I was obliged to sleep at the wretched
village of Abukawa, in a loft alive with fleas, where the rice was
too dirty to be eaten, and where the house-master's wife, who sat
for an hour on my floor, was sorely afflicted with skin disease.
The clay houses have disappeared and the villages are now built of
wood, but Abukawa is an antiquated, ramshackle place, propped up
with posts and slanting beams projecting into the roadway for the
entanglement of unwary passengers.

The village smith was opposite, but he was not a man of ponderous
strength, nor were there those wondrous flights and scintillations
of sparks which were the joy of our childhood in the Tattenhall
forge. A fire of powdered charcoal on the floor, always being
trimmed and replenished by a lean and grimy satellite, a man still
leaner and grimier, clothed in goggles and a girdle, always sitting
in front of it, heating and hammering iron bars with his hands,
with a clink which went on late into the night, and blowing his
bellows with his toes; bars and pieces of rusty iron pinned on the
smoky walls, and a group of idle men watching his skilful
manipulation, were the sights of the Abukawa smithy, and kept me
thralled in the balcony, though the whole clothesless population
stood for the whole evening in front of the house with a silent,
open-mouthed stare.

Early in the morning the same melancholy crowd appeared in the
dismal drizzle, which turned into a tremendous torrent, which has
lasted for sixteen hours. Low hills, broad rice valleys in which
people are puddling the rice a second time to kill the weeds, bad
roads, pretty villages, much indigo, few passengers, were the
features of the day's journey. At Morioka and several other
villages in this region I noticed that if you see one large, high,
well-built house, standing in enclosed grounds, with a look of
wealth about it, it is always that of the sake brewer. A bush
denotes the manufacture as well as the sale of sake, and these are
of all sorts, from the mangy bit of fir which has seen long service
to the vigorous truss of pine constantly renewed. It is curious
that this should formerly have been the sign of the sale of wine in

The wind and rain were something fearful all that afternoon. I
could not ride, so I tramped on foot for some miles under an avenue
of pines, through water a foot deep, and, with my paper waterproof
soaked through, reached Toyoka half drowned and very cold, to
shiver over a hibachi in a clean loft, hung with my dripping
clothes, which had to be put on wet the next day. By 5 a.m. all
Toyoka assembled, and while I took my breakfast I was not only the
"cynosure" of the eyes of all the people outside, but of those of
about forty more who were standing in the doma, looking up the
ladder. When asked to depart by the house-master, they said, "It's
neither fair nor neighbourly in you to keep this great sight to
yourself, seeing that our lives may pass without again looking on a
foreign woman;" so they were allowed to remain! I. L. B.


The Fatigues of Travelling--Torrents and Mud--Ito's Surliness--The
Blind Shampooers--A Supposed Monkey Theatre--A Suspended Ferry--A
Difficult Transit--Perils on the Yonetsurugawa--A Boatman Drowned--
Nocturnal Disturbances--A Noisy Yadoya--Storm-bound Travellers--
Hai! Hai!--More Nocturnal Disturbances

ODATE, July 29.

I have been suffering so much from my spine that I have been unable
to travel more than seven or eight miles daily for several days,
and even that with great difficulty. I try my own saddle, then a
pack-saddle, then walk through the mud; but I only get on because
getting on is a necessity, and as soon as I reach the night's
halting-place I am obliged to lie down at once. Only strong people
should travel in northern Japan. The inevitable fatigue is much
increased by the state of the weather, and doubtless my impressions
of the country are affected by it also, as a hamlet in a quagmire
in a gray mist or a soaking rain is a far less delectable object
than the same hamlet under bright sunshine. There has not been
such a season for thirty years. The rains have been tremendous. I
have lived in soaked clothes, in spite of my rain-cloak, and have
slept on a soaked stretcher in spite of all waterproof wrappings
for several days, and still the weather shows no signs of
improvement, and the rivers are so high on the northern road that I
am storm-bound as well as pain-bound here. Ito shows his sympathy
for me by intense surliness, though he did say very sensibly, "I'm
very sorry for you, but it's no use saying so over and over again;
as I can do nothing for you, you'd better send for the blind man!"

In Japanese towns and villages you hear every evening a man (or
men) making a low peculiar whistle as he walks along, and in large
towns the noise is quite a nuisance. It is made by blind men; but
a blind beggar is never seen throughout Japan, and the blind are an
independent, respected, and well-to-do class, carrying on the
occupations of shampooing, money-lending, and music.

We have had a very severe journey from Toyoka. That day the rain
was ceaseless, and in the driving mists one could see little but
low hills looming on the horizon, pine barrens, scrub, and flooded
rice-fields; varied by villages standing along roads which were
quagmires a foot deep, and where the clothing was specially ragged
and dirty. Hinokiyama, a village of samurai, on a beautiful slope,
was an exception, with its fine detached houses, pretty gardens,
deep-roofed gateways, grass and stone-faced terraces, and look of
refined, quiet comfort. Everywhere there was a quantity of indigo,
as is necessary, for nearly all the clothing of the lower classes
is blue. Near a large village we were riding on a causeway through
the rice-fields, Ito on the pack-horse in front, when we met a
number of children returning from school, who, on getting near us,
turned, ran away, and even jumped into the ditches, screaming as
they ran. The mago ran after them, caught the hindmost boy, and
dragged him back--the boy scared and struggling, the man laughing.
The boy said that they thought that Ito was a monkey-player, i.e.
the keeper of a monkey theatre, I a big ape, and the poles of my
bed the scaffolding of the stage!

Splashing through mire and water we found that the people of Tubine
wished to detain us, saying that all the ferries were stopped in
consequence of the rise in the rivers; but I had been so often
misled by false reports that I took fresh horses and went on by a
track along a very pretty hillside, overlooking the Yonetsurugawa,
a large and swollen river, which nearer the sea had spread itself
over the whole country. Torrents of rain were still falling, and
all out-of-doors industries were suspended. Straw rain-cloaks
hanging to dry dripped under all the eaves, our paper cloaks were
sodden, our dripping horses steamed, and thus we slid down a steep
descent into the hamlet of Kiriishi, thirty-one houses clustered
under persimmon trees under a wooded hillside, all standing in a
quagmire, and so abject and filthy that one could not ask for five
minutes' shelter in any one of them. Sure enough, on the bank of
the river, which was fully 400 yards wide, and swirling like a
mill-stream with a suppressed roar, there was an official order
prohibiting the crossing of man or beast, and before I had time to
think the mago had deposited the baggage on an islet in the mire
and was over the crest of the hill. I wished that the Government
was a little less paternal.

Just in the nick of time we discerned a punt drifting down the
river on the opposite side, where it brought up, and landed a man,
and Ito and two others yelled, howled, and waved so lustily as to
attract its notice, and to my joy an answering yell came across the
roar and rush of the river. The torrent was so strong that the
boatmen had to pole up on that side for half a mile, and in about
three-quarters of an hour they reached our side. They were
returning to Kotsunagi--the very place I wished to reach--but,
though only 2.5 miles off, the distance took nearly four hours of
the hardest work I ever saw done by men. Every moment I expected
to see them rupture blood-vessels or tendons. All their muscles
quivered. It is a mighty river, and was from eight to twelve feet
deep, and whirling down in muddy eddies; and often with their
utmost efforts in poling, when it seemed as if poles or backs must
break, the boat hung trembling and stationary for three or four
minutes at a time. After the slow and eventless tramp of the last
few days this was an exciting transit. Higher up there was a
flooded wood, and, getting into this, the men aided themselves
considerably by hauling by the trees; but when we got out of this,
another river joined the Yonetsurugawa, which with added strength
rushed and roared more wildly.

I had long been watching a large house-boat far above us on the
other side, which was being poled by desperate efforts by ten men.
At that point she must have been half a mile off, when the stream
overpowered the crew and in no time she swung round and came
drifting wildly down and across the river, broadside on to us. We
could not stir against the current, and had large trees on our
immediate left, and for a moment it was a question whether she
would not smash us to atoms. Ito was livid with fear; his white,
appalled face struck me as ludicrous, for I had no other thought
than the imminent peril of the large boat with her freight of
helpless families, when, just as she was within two feet of us, she
struck a stem and glanced off. Then her crew grappled a headless
trunk and got their hawser round it, and eight of them, one behind
the other, hung on to it, when it suddenly snapped, seven fell
backwards, and the forward one went overboard to be no more seen.
Some house that night was desolate. Reeling downwards, the big
mast and spar of the ungainly craft caught in a tree, giving her
such a check that they were able to make her fast. It was a
saddening incident. I asked Ito what he felt when we seemed in
peril, and he replied, "I thought I'd been good to my mother, and
honest, and I hoped I should go to a good place."

The fashion of boats varies much on different rivers. On this one
there are two sizes. Ours was a small one, flat-bottomed, 25 feet
long by 2.5 broad, drawing 6 inches, very low in the water, and
with sides slightly curved inwards. The prow forms a gradual long
curve from the body of the boat, and is very high.

The mists rolled away as dusk came on, and revealed a lovely
country with much picturesqueness of form, and near Kotsunagi the
river disappears into a narrow gorge with steep, sentinel hills,
dark with pine and cryptomeria. To cross the river we had to go
fully a mile above the point aimed at, and then a few minutes of
express speed brought us to a landing in a deep, tough quagmire in
a dark wood, through which we groped our lamentable way to the
yadoya. A heavy mist came on, and the rain returned in torrents;
the doma was ankle deep in black slush. The daidokoro was open to
the roof, roof and rafters were black with smoke, and a great fire
of damp wood was smoking lustily. Round some live embers in the
irori fifteen men, women, and children were lying, doing nothing,
by the dim light of an andon. It was picturesque decidedly, and I
was well disposed to be content when the production of some
handsome fusuma created daimiyo's rooms out of the farthest part of
the dim and wandering space, opening upon a damp garden, into which
the rain splashed all night.

The solitary spoil of the day's journey was a glorious lily, which
I presented to the house-master, and in the morning it was blooming
on the kami-dana in a small vase of priceless old Satsuma china. I
was awoke out of a sound sleep by Ito coming in with a rumour,
brought by some travellers, that the Prime Minister had been
assassinated, and fifty policemen killed! [This was probably a
distorted version of the partial mutiny of the Imperial Guard,
which I learned on landing in Yezo.] Very wild political rumours
are in the air in these outlandish regions, and it is not very
wonderful that the peasantry lack confidence in the existing order
of things after the changes of the last ten years, and the recent
assassination of the Home Minister. I did not believe the rumour,
for fanaticism, even in its wildest moods, usually owes some
allegiance to common sense; but it was disturbing, as I have
naturally come to feel a deep interest in Japanese affairs. A few
hours later Ito again presented himself with a bleeding cut on his
temple. In lighting his pipe--an odious nocturnal practice of the
Japanese--he had fallen over the edge of the fire-pot. I always
sleep in a Japanese kimona to be ready for emergencies, and soon
bound up his head, and slept again, to be awoke early by another

We made an early start, but got over very little ground, owing to
bad roads and long delays. All day the rain came down in even
torrents, the tracks were nearly impassable, my horse fell five
times, I suffered severely from pain and exhaustion, and almost
fell into despair about ever reaching the sea. In these wild
regions there are no kago or norimons to be had, and a pack-horse
is the only conveyance, and yesterday, having abandoned my own
saddle, I had the bad luck to get a pack-saddle with specially
angular and uncompromising peaks, with a soaked and extremely
unwashed futon on the top, spars, tackle, ridges, and furrows of
the most exasperating description, and two nooses of rope to hold
on by as the animal slid down hill on his haunches, or let me
almost slide over his tail as he scrambled and plunged up hill.

It was pretty country, even in the downpour, when white mists
parted and fir-crowned heights looked out for a moment, or we slid
down into a deep glen with mossy boulders, lichen-covered stumps,
ferny carpet, and damp, balsamy smell of pyramidal cryptomeria, and
a tawny torrent dashing through it in gusts of passion. Then there
were low hills, much scrub, immense rice-fields, and violent
inundations. But it is not pleasant, even in the prettiest
country, to cling on to a pack-saddle with a saturated quilt below
you and the water slowly soaking down through your wet clothes into
your boots, knowing all the time that when you halt you must sleep
on a wet bed, and change into damp clothes, and put on the wet ones
again the next morning. The villages were poor, and most of the
houses were of boards rudely nailed together for ends, and for
sides straw rudely tied on; they had no windows, and smoke came out
of every crack. They were as unlike the houses which travellers
see in southern Japan as a "black hut" in Uist is like a cottage in
a trim village in Kent. These peasant proprietors have much to
learn of the art of living. At Tsuguriko, the next stage, where
the Transport Office was so dirty that I was obliged to sit in the
street in the rain, they told us that we could only get on a ri
farther, because the bridges were all carried away and the fords
were impassable; but I engaged horses, and, by dint of British
doggedness and the willingness of the mago, I got the horses singly
and without their loads in small punts across the swollen waters of
the Hayakuchi, the Yuwase, and the Mochida, and finally forded
three branches of my old friend the Yonetsurugawa, with the foam of
its hurrying waters whitening the men's shoulders and the horses'
packs, and with a hundred Japanese looking on at the "folly" of the

I like to tell you of kind people everywhere, and the two mago were
specially so, for, when they found that I was pushing on to Yezo
for fear of being laid up in the interior wilds, they did all they
could to help me; lifted me gently from the horse, made steps of
their backs for me to mount, and gathered for me handfuls of red
berries, which I ate out of politeness, though they tasted of some
nauseous drug. They suggested that I should stay at the
picturesquely-situated old village of Kawaguchi, but everything
about it was mildewed and green with damp, and the stench from the
green and black ditches with which it abounded was so overpowering,
even in passing through, that I was obliged to ride on to Odate, a
crowded, forlorn, half-tumbling-to-pieces town of 8000 people, with
bark roofs held down by stones.

The yadoyas are crowded with storm-staid travellers, and I had a
weary tramp from one to another, almost sinking from pain, pressed
upon by an immense crowd, and frequently bothered by a policeman,
who followed me from one place to the other, making wholly
unrighteous demands for my passport at that most inopportune time.
After a long search I could get nothing better than this room, with
fusuma of tissue paper, in the centre of the din of the house,
close to the doma and daidokoro. Fifty travellers, nearly all men,
are here, mostly speaking at the top of their voices, and in a
provincial jargon which exasperates Ito. Cooking, bathing, eating,
and, worst of all, perpetual drawing water from a well with a
creaking hoisting apparatus, are going on from 4.30 in the morning
till 11.30 at night, and on both evenings noisy mirth, of alcoholic
inspiration, and dissonant performances by geishas have added to
the dim

In all places lately Hai, "yes," has been pronounced He, Chi, Na,
Ne, to Ito's great contempt. It sounds like an expletive or
interjection rather than a response, and seems used often as a sign
of respect or attention only. Often it is loud and shrill, then
guttural, at times little more than a sigh. In these yadoyas every
sound is audible, and I hear low rumbling of mingled voices, and
above all the sharp Hai, Hai of the tea-house girls in full chorus
from every quarter of the house. The habit of saying it is so
strong that a man roused out of sleep jumps up with Hai, Hai, and
often, when I speak to Ito in English, a stupid Hebe sitting by
answers Hai.

I don't want to convey a false impression of the noise here. It
would be at least three times as great were I in equally close
proximity to a large hotel kitchen in England, with fifty Britons
only separated from me by paper partitions. I had not been long in
bed on Saturday night when I was awoke by Ito bringing in an old
hen which he said he could stew till it was tender, and I fell
asleep again with its dying squeak in my ears, to be awoke a second
time by two policemen wanting for some occult reason to see my
passport, and a third time by two men with lanterns scrambling and
fumbling about the room for the strings of a mosquito net, which
they wanted for another traveller. These are among the ludicrous
incidents of Japanese travelling. About five Ito woke me by saying
he was quite sure that the moxa would be the thing to cure my
spine, and, as we were going to stay all day, he would go and fetch
an operator; but I rejected this as emphatically as the services of
the blind man! Yesterday a man came and pasted slips of paper over
all the "peep holes" in the shoji, and I have been very little
annoyed, even though the yadoya is so crowded.

The rain continues to come down in torrents, and rumours are hourly
arriving of disasters to roads and bridges on the northern route.
I. L. B.


Good-tempered Intoxication--The Effect of Sunshine--A tedious
Altercation--Evening Occupations--Noisy Talk--Social Gathering--
Unfair Comparisons.


Early this morning the rain-clouds rolled themselves up and
disappeared, and the bright blue sky looked as if it had been well
washed. I had to wait till noon before the rivers became fordable,
and my day's journey is only seven miles, as it is not possible to
go farther till more of the water runs off. We had very limp,
melancholy horses, and my mago was half-tipsy, and sang, talked,
and jumped the whole way. Sake is frequently taken warm, and in
that state produces a very noisy but good-tempered intoxication. I
have seen a good many intoxicated persons, but never one in the
least degree quarrelsome; and the effect very soon passes off,
leaving, however, an unpleasant nausea for two or three days as a
warning against excess. The abominable concoctions known under the
names of beer, wine, and brandy, produce a bad-tempered and
prolonged intoxication, and delirium tremens, rarely known as a
result of sake drinking, is being introduced under their baleful

The sun shone gloriously and brightened the hill-girdled valley in
which Odate stands into positive beauty, with the narrow river
flinging its bright waters over green and red shingle, lighting it
up in glints among the conical hills, some richly wooded with
coniferae, and others merely covered with scrub, which were tumbled
about in picturesque confusion. When Japan gets the sunshine, its
forest-covered hills and garden-like valleys are turned into
paradise. In a journey of 600 miles there has hardly been a patch
of country which would not have been beautiful in sunlight.

We crossed five severe fords with the water half-way up the horses'
bodies, in one of which the strong current carried my mago off his
feet, and the horse towed him ashore, singing and capering, his
drunken glee nothing abated by his cold bath. Everything is in a
state of wreck. Several river channels have been formed in places
where there was only one; there is not a trace of the road for a
considerable distance, not a bridge exists for ten miles, and a
great tract of country is covered with boulders, uprooted trees,
and logs floated from the mountain sides. Already, however, these
industrious peasants are driving piles, carrying soil for
embankments in creels on horses' backs, and making ropes of stones
to prevent a recurrence of the calamity. About here the female
peasants wear for field-work a dress which pleases me much by its
suitability--light blue trousers, with a loose sack over them,
confined at the waist by a girdle.

On arriving here in much pain, and knowing that the road was not
open any farther, I was annoyed by a long and angry conversation
between the house-master and Ito, during which the horses were not
unloaded, and the upshot of it was that the man declined to give me
shelter, saying that the police had been round the week before
giving notice that no foreigner was to be received without first
communicating with the nearest police station, which, in this
instance, is three hours off. I said that the authorities of Akita
ken could not by any local regulations override the Imperial edict
under which passports are issued; but he said he should be liable
to a fine and the withdrawal of his license if he violated the
rule. No foreigner, he said, had ever lodged in Shirasawa, and I
have no doubt that he added that he hoped no foreigner would ever
seek lodgings again. My passport was copied and sent off by
special runner, as I should have deeply regretted bringing trouble
on the poor man by insisting on my rights, and in much trepidation
he gave me a room open on one side to the village, and on another
to a pond, over which, as if to court mosquitoes, it is partially
built. I cannot think how the Japanese can regard a hole full of
dirty water as an ornamental appendage to a house.

My hotel expenses (including Ito's) are less than 3s. a-day, and in
nearly every place there has been a cordial desire that I should be
comfortable, and, considering that I have often put up in small,
rough hamlets off the great routes even of Japanese travel, the
accommodation, minus the fleas and the odours, has been
surprisingly excellent, not to be equalled, I should think, in
equally remote regions in any country in the world.

This evening, here, as in thousands of other villages, the men came
home from their work, ate their food, took their smoke, enjoyed
their children, carried them about, watched their games, twisted
straw ropes, made straw sandals, split bamboo, wove straw rain-
coats, and spent the time universally in those little economical
ingenuities and skilful adaptations which our people (the worse for
them) practise perhaps less than any other. There was no
assembling at the sake shop. Poor though the homes are, the men
enjoy them; the children are an attraction at any rate, and the
brawling and disobedience which often turn our working-class homes
into bear-gardens are unknown here, where docility and obedience
are inculcated from the cradle as a matter of course. The signs of
religion become fewer as I travel north, and it appears that the
little faith which exists consists mainly in a belief in certain
charms and superstitions, which the priests industriously foster.

A low voice is not regarded as "a most excellent thing," in man at
least, among the lower classes in Japan. The people speak at the
top of their voices, and, though most words and syllables end in
vowels, the general effect of a conversation is like the discordant
gabble of a farm-yard. The next room to mine is full of stormbound
travellers, and they and the house-master kept up what I thought
was a most important argument for four hours at the top of their
voices. I supposed it must be on the new and important ordinance
granting local elective assemblies, of which I heard at Odate, but
on inquiry found that it was possible to spend four mortal hours in
discussing whether the day's journey from Odate to Noshiro could be
made best by road or river.

Japanese women have their own gatherings, where gossip and chit-
chat, marked by a truly Oriental indecorum of speech, are the
staple of talk. I think that in many things, specially in some
which lie on the surface, the Japanese are greatly our superiors,
but that in many others they are immeasurably behind us. In living
altogether among this courteous, industrious, and civilised people,
one comes to forget that one is doing them a gross injustice in
comparing their manners and ways with those of a people moulded by
many centuries of Christianity. Would to God that we were so
Christianised that the comparison might always be favourable to us,
which it is not!

July 30.--In the room on the other side of mine were two men with
severe eye-disease, with shaven heads and long and curious
rosaries, who beat small drums as they walked, and were on
pilgrimage to the shrine of Fudo at Megura, near Yedo, a seated,
flame-surrounded idol, with a naked sword in one hand and a coil of
rope in the other, who has the reputation of giving sight to the
blind. At five this morning they began their devotions, which
consisted in repeating with great rapidity, and in a high
monotonous key for two hours, the invocation of the Nichiren sect
of Buddhists, Namu miyo ho ren ge Kiyo, which certainly no Japanese
understands, and on the meaning of which even the best scholars are
divided; one having given me, "Glory to the salvation-bringing
Scriptures;" another, "Hail, precious law and gospel of the lotus
flower;" and a third, "Heaven and earth! The teachings of the
wonderful lotus flower sect." Namu amidu Butsu occurred at
intervals, and two drums were beaten the whole time!

The rain, which began again at eleven last night, fell from five
till eight this morning, not in drops, but in streams, and in the
middle of it a heavy pall of blackness (said to be a total eclipse)
enfolded all things in a lurid gloom. Any detention is
exasperating within one day of my journey's end, and I hear without
equanimity that there are great difficulties ahead, and that our
getting through in three or even four days is doubtful. I hope you
will not be tired of the monotony of my letters. Such as they are,
they represent the scenes which a traveller would see throughout
much of northern Japan, and whatever interest they have consists in
the fact that they are a faithful representation, made upon the
spot, of what a foreigner sees and hears in travelling through a
large but unfrequented region. I. L. B.


Torrents of Rain--An unpleasant Detention--Devastations produced by
Floods--The Yadate Pass--The Force of Water--Difficulties thicken--
A Primitive Yadoya--The Water rises.


The prophecies concerning difficulties are fulfilled. For six days
and five nights the rain has never ceased, except for a few hours
at a time, and for the last thirteen hours, as during the eclipse
at Shirasawa, it has been falling in such sheets as I have only
seen for a few minutes at a time on the equator. I have been here
storm-staid for two days, with damp bed, damp clothes, damp
everything, and boots, bag, books, are all green with mildew. And
still the rain falls, and roads, bridges, rice-fields, trees, and
hillsides are being swept in a common ruin towards the Tsugaru
Strait, so tantalisingly near; and the simple people are calling on
the forgotten gods of the rivers and the hills, on the sun and
moon, and all the host of heaven, to save them from this "plague of
immoderate rain and waters." For myself, to be able to lie down
all day is something, and as "the mind, when in a healthy state,
reposes as quietly before an insurmountable difficulty as before an
ascertained truth," so, as I cannot get on, I have ceased to chafe,
and am rather inclined to magnify the advantages of the detention,
a necessary process, as you would think if you saw my surroundings!

The day before yesterday, in spite of severe pain, was one of the
most interesting of my journey. As I learned something of the
force of fire in Hawaii, I am learning not a little of the force of
water in Japan. We left Shirasawa at noon, as it looked likely to
clear, taking two horses and three men. It is beautiful scenery--a
wild valley, upon which a number of lateral ridges descend,
rendered strikingly picturesque by the dark pyramidal cryptomeria,
which are truly the glory of Japan. Five of the fords were deep
and rapid, and the entrance on them difficult, as the sloping
descents were all carried away, leaving steep banks, which had to
be levelled by the mattocks of the mago. Then the fords themselves
were gone; there were shallows where there had been depths, and
depths where there had been shallows; new channels were carved, and
great beds of shingle had been thrown up. Much wreckage lay about.
The road and its small bridges were all gone, trees torn up by the
roots or snapped short off by being struck by heavy logs were
heaped together like barricades, leaves and even bark being in many
cases stripped completely off; great logs floated down the river in
such numbers and with such force that we had to wait half an hour
in one place to secure a safe crossing; hollows were filled with
liquid mud, boulders of great size were piled into embankments,
causing perilous alterations in the course of the river; a fertile
valley had been utterly destroyed, and the men said they could
hardly find their way.

At the end of five miles it became impassable for horses, and, with
two of the mago carrying the baggage, we set off, wading through
water and climbing along the side of a hill, up to our knees in
soft wet soil. The hillside and the road were both gone, and there
were heavy landslips along the whole valley. Happily there was not
much of this exhausting work, for, just as higher and darker
ranges, densely wooded with cryptomeria, began to close us in, we
emerged upon a fine new road, broad enough for a carriage, which,
after crossing two ravines on fine bridges, plunges into the depths
of a magnificent forest, and then by a long series of fine zigzags
of easy gradients ascends the pass of Yadate, on the top of which,
in a deep sandstone cutting, is a handsome obelisk marking the
boundary between Akita and Aomori ken. This is a marvellous road
for Japan, it is so well graded and built up, and logs for
travellers' rests are placed at convenient distances. Some very
heavy work in grading and blasting has been done upon it, but there
are only four miles of it, with wretched bridle tracks at each end.
I left the others behind, and strolled on alone over the top of the
pass and down the other side, where the road is blasted out of rock
of a vivid pink and green colour, looking brilliant under the
trickle of water. I admire this pass more than anything I have
seen in Japan; I even long to see it again, but under a bright blue
sky. It reminds me much of the finest part of the Brunig Pass, and
something of some of the passes in the Rocky Mountains, but the
trees are far finer than in either. It was lonely, stately, dark,
solemn; its huge cryptomeria, straight as masts, sent their tall
spires far aloft in search of light; the ferns, which love damp and
shady places, were the only undergrowth; the trees flung their
balsamy, aromatic scent liberally upon the air, and, in the
unlighted depths of many a ravine and hollow, clear bright torrents
leapt and tumbled, drowning with their thundering bass the musical
treble of the lighter streams. Not a traveller disturbed the
solitude with his sandalled footfall; there was neither song of
bird nor hum of insect.

In the midst of this sublime scenery, and at the very top of the
pass, the rain, which had been light but steady during the whole
day, began to come down in streams and then in sheets. I have been
so rained upon for weeks that at first I took little notice of it,
but very soon changes occurred before my eyes which concentrated my
attention upon it. The rush of waters was heard everywhere, trees
of great size slid down, breaking others in their fall; rocks were
rent and carried away trees in their descent, the waters rose
before our eyes; with a boom and roar as of an earthquake a
hillside burst, and half the hill, with a noble forest of
cryptomeria, was projected outwards, and the trees, with the land
on which they grew, went down heads foremost, diverting a river
from its course, and where the forest-covered hillside had been
there was a great scar, out of which a torrent burst at high
pressure, which in half an hour carved for itself a deep ravine,
and carried into the valley below an avalanche of stones and sand.
Another hillside descended less abruptly, and its noble groves
found themselves at the bottom in a perpendicular position, and
will doubtless survive their transplantation. Actually, before my
eyes, this fine new road was torn away by hastily improvised
torrents, or blocked by landslips in several places, and a little
lower, in one moment, a hundred yards of it disappeared, and with
them a fine bridge, which was deposited aslant across the torrent
lower down.

On the descent, when things began to look very bad, and the
mountain-sides had become cascades bringing trees, logs, and rocks
down with them, we were fortunate enough to meet with two pack-
horses whose leaders were ignorant of the impassability of the road
to Odate, and they and my coolies exchanged loads. These were
strong horses, and the mago were skilful and courageous. They said
if we hurried we could just get to the hamlet they had left, they
thought; but while they spoke the road and the bridge below were
carried away. They insisted on lashing me to the pack-saddle. The
great stream, whose beauty I had formerly admired, was now a thing
of dread, and had to be forded four times without fords. It
crashed and thundered, drowning the feeble sound of human voices,
the torrents from the heavens hissed through the forest, trees and
logs came crashing down the hillsides, a thousand cascades added to
the din, and in the bewilderment produced by such an unusual
concatenation of sights and sounds we stumbled through the river,
the men up to their shoulders, the horses up to their backs. Again
and again we crossed. The banks being carried away, it was very
hard to get either into or out of the water; the horses had to
scramble or jump up places as high as their shoulders, all slippery
and crumbling, and twice the men cut steps for them with axes. The
rush of the torrent at the last crossing taxed the strength of both
men and horses, and, as I was helpless from being tied on, I
confess that I shut my eyes! After getting through, we came upon
the lands belonging to this village--rice-fields with the dykes
burst, and all the beautiful ridge and furrow cultivation of the
other crops carried away. The waters were rising fast, the men
said we must hurry; they unbound me, so that I might ride more
comfortably, spoke to the horses, and went on at a run. My horse,
which had nearly worn out his shoes in the fords, stumbled at every
step, the mago gave me a noose of rope to clutch, the rain fell in
such torrents that I speculated on the chance of being washed off
my saddle, when suddenly I saw a shower of sparks; I felt
unutterable things; I was choked, bruised, stifled, and presently
found myself being hauled out of a ditch by three men, and realised
that the horse had tumbled down in going down a steepish hill, and
that I had gone over his head. To climb again on the soaked futon
was the work of a moment, and, with men running and horses
stumbling and splashing, we crossed the Hirakawa by one fine
bridge, and half a mile farther re-crossed it on another, wishing
as we did so that all Japanese bridges were as substantial, for
they were both 100 feet long, and had central piers.

We entered Ikarigaseki from the last bridge, a village of 800
people, on a narrow ledge between an abrupt hill and the Hirakawa,
a most forlorn and tumble-down place, given up to felling timber
and making shingles; and timber in all its forms--logs, planks,
faggots, and shingles--is heaped and stalked about. It looks more
like a lumberer's encampment than a permanent village, but it is
beautifully situated, and unlike any of the innumerable villages
that I have ever seen.

The street is long and narrow, with streams in stone channels on
either side; but these had overflowed, and men, women, and children
were constructing square dams to keep the water, which had already
reached the doma, from rising over the tatami. Hardly any house
has paper windows, and in the few which have, they are so black
with smoke as to look worse than none. The roofs are nearly flat,
and are covered with shingles held on by laths and weighted with
large stones. Nearly all the houses look like temporary sheds, and
most are as black inside as a Barra hut. The walls of many are
nothing but rough boards tied to the uprights by straw ropes.

In the drowning torrent, sitting in puddles of water, and drenched
to the skin hours before, we reached this very primitive yadoya,
the lower part of which is occupied by the daidokoro, a party of
storm-bound students, horses, fowls, and dogs. My room is a
wretched loft, reached by a ladder, with such a quagmire at its
foot that I have to descend into it in Wellington boots. It was
dismally grotesque at first. The torrent on the unceiled roof
prevented Ito from hearing what I said, the bed was soaked, and the
water, having got into my box, had dissolved the remains of the
condensed milk, and had reduced clothes, books, and paper into a
condition of universal stickiness. My kimono was less wet than
anything else, and, borrowing a sheet of oiled paper, I lay down in
it, till roused up in half an hour by Ito shrieking above the din
on the roof that the people thought that the bridge by which we had
just entered would give way; and, running to the river bank, we
joined a large crowd, far too intensely occupied by the coming
disaster to take any notice of the first foreign lady they had ever

The Hirakawa, which an hour before was merely a clear, rapid
mountain stream, about four feet deep, was then ten feet deep, they
said, and tearing along, thick and muddy, and with a fearful roar,

"And each wave was crested with tawny foam,
Like the mane of a chestnut steed."

Immense logs of hewn timber, trees, roots, branches, and faggots,
were coming down in numbers. The abutment on this side was much
undermined, but, except that the central pier trembled whenever a
log struck it, the bridge itself stood firm--so firm, indeed, that
two men, anxious to save some property on the other side, crossed
it after I arrived. Then logs of planed timber of large size, and
joints, and much wreckage, came down--fully forty fine timbers,
thirty feet long, for the fine bridge above had given way. Most of
the harvest of logs cut on the Yadate Pass must have been lost, for
over 300 were carried down in the short time in which I watched the
river. This is a very heavy loss to this village, which lives by
the timber trade. Efforts were made at a bank higher up to catch
them as they drifted by, but they only saved about one in twenty.
It was most exciting to see the grand way in which these timbers
came down; and the moment in which they were to strike or not to
strike the pier was one of intense suspense. After an hour of this
two superb logs, fully thirty feet long, came down close together,
and, striking the central pier nearly simultaneously, it shuddered
horribly, the great bridge parted in the middle, gave an awful
groan like a living thing, plunged into the torrent, and re-
appeared in the foam below only as disjointed timbers hurrying to
the sea. Not a vestige remained. The bridge below was carried
away in the morning, so, till the river becomes fordable, this
little place is completely isolated. On thirty miles of road, out
of nineteen bridges only two remain, and the road itself is almost
wholly carried away!

LETTER XXVIII--(Continued)

Scanty Resources--Japanese Children--Children's Games--A Sagacious
Example--A Kite Competition--Personal Privations.


I have well-nigh exhausted the resources of this place. They are
to go out three times a day to see how much the river has fallen;
to talk with the house-master and Kocho; to watch the children's
games and the making of shingles; to buy toys and sweetmeats and
give them away; to apply zinc lotion to a number of sore eyes three
times daily, under which treatment, during three days, there has
been a wonderful amendment; to watch the cooking, spinning, and
other domestic processes in the daidokoro; to see the horses, which
are also actually in it, making meals of green leaves of trees
instead of hay; to see the lepers, who are here for some waters
which are supposed to arrest, if not to cure, their terrible
malady; to lie on my stretcher and sew, and read the papers of the
Asiatic Society, and to go over all possible routes to Aomori. The
people have become very friendly in consequence of the eye lotion,
and bring many diseases for my inspection, most of which would
never have arisen had cleanliness of clothing and person been
attended to. The absence of soap, the infrequency with which
clothing is washed, and the absence of linen next the skin, cause
various cutaneous diseases, which are aggravated by the bites and
stings of insects. Scald-head affects nearly half the children

I am very fond of Japanese children. I have never yet heard a baby
cry, and I have never seen a child troublesome or disobedient.
Filial piety is the leading virtue in Japan, and unquestioning
obedience is the habit of centuries. The arts and threats by which
English mothers cajole or frighten children into unwilling
obedience appear unknown. I admire the way in which children are
taught to be independent in their amusements. Part of the home
education is the learning of the rules of the different games,
which are absolute, and when there is a doubt, instead of a
quarrelsome suspension of the game, the fiat of a senior child
decides the matter. They play by themselves, and don't bother
adults at every turn. I usually carry sweeties with me, and give
them to the children, but not one has ever received them without
first obtaining permission from the father or mother. When that is
gained they smile and bow profoundly, and hand the sweeties to
those present before eating any themselves. They are gentle
creatures, but too formal and precocious.

They have no special dress. This is so queer that I cannot repeat
it too often. At three they put on the kimono and girdle, which
are as inconvenient to them as to their parents, and childish play
in this garb is grotesque. I have, however, never seen what we
call child's play--that general abandonment to miscellaneous
impulses, which consists in struggling, slapping, rolling, jumping,
kicking, shouting, laughing, and quarrelling! Two fine boys are
very clever in harnessing paper carts to the backs of beetles with
gummed traces, so that eight of them draw a load of rice up an
inclined plane. You can imagine what the fate of such a load and
team would be at home among a number of snatching hands. Here a
number of infants watch the performance with motionless interest,
and never need the adjuration, "Don't touch." In most of the
houses there are bamboo cages for "the shrill-voiced Katydid," and
the children amuse themselves with feeding these vociferous
grasshoppers. The channels of swift water in the street turn a
number of toy water-wheels, which set in motion most ingenious
mechanical toys, of which a model of the automatic rice-husker is
the commonest, and the boys spend much time in devising and
watching these, which are really very fascinating. It is the
holidays, but "holiday tasks" are given, and in the evenings you
hear the hum of lessons all along the street for about an hour.
The school examination is at the re-opening of the school after the
holidays, instead of at the end of the session--an arrangement
which shows an honest desire to discern the permanent gain made by
the scholars.

This afternoon has been fine and windy, and the boys have been
flying kites, made of tough paper on a bamboo frame, all of a
rectangular shape, some of them five feet square, and nearly all
decorated with huge faces of historical heroes. Some of them have
a humming arrangement made of whale-bone. There was a very
interesting contest between two great kites, and it brought out the
whole population. The string of each kite, for 30 feet or more
below the frame, was covered with pounded glass, made to adhere
very closely by means of tenacious glue, and for two hours the
kite-fighters tried to get their kites into a proper position for
sawing the adversary's string in two. At last one was successful,
and the severed kite became his property, upon which victor and
vanquished exchanged three low bows. Silently as the people
watched and received the destruction of their bridge, so silently
they watched this exciting contest. The boys also flew their kites
while walking on stilts--a most dexterous performance, in which few
were able to take part--and then a larger number gave a stilt race.
The most striking out-of-door games are played at fixed seasons of
the year, and are not to be seen now.

There are twelve children in this yadoya, and after dark they
regularly play at a game which Ito says "is played in the winter in
every house in Japan." The children sit in a circle, and the
adults look on eagerly, child-worship being more common in Japan
than in America, and, to my thinking, the Japanese form is the

From proverbial philosophy to personal privation is rather a
descent, but owing to the many detentions on the journey my small
stock of foreign food is exhausted, and I have been living here on
rice, cucumbers, and salt salmon--so salt that, after being boiled
in two waters, it produces a most distressing thirst. Even this
has failed to-day, as communication with the coast has been stopped
for some time, and the village is suffering under the calamity of
its stock of salt-fish being completely exhausted. There are no
eggs, and rice and cucumbers are very like the "light food" which
the Israelites "loathed." I had an omelette one day, but it was
much like musty leather. The Italian minister said to me in
Tokiyo, "No question in Japan is so solemn as that of food," and
many others echoed what I thought at the time a most unworthy
sentiment. I recognised its truth to-day when I opened my last
resort, a box of Brand's meat lozenges, and found them a mass of
mouldiness. One can only dry clothes here by hanging them in the
wood smoke, so I prefer to let them mildew on the walls, and have
bought a straw rain-coat, which is more reliable than the paper
waterproofs. I hear the hum of the children at their lessons for
the last time, for the waters are falling fast, and we shall leave
in the morning.

I. L. B.


Hope deferred--Effects of the Flood--Activity of the Police--A
Ramble in Disguise--The Tanabata Festival--Mr. Satow's Reputation.

KUROISHI, August 5.

After all the waters did not fall as was expected, and I had to
spend a fourth day at Ikarigaseki. We left early on Saturday, as
we had to travel fifteen miles without halting. The sun shone on
all the beautiful country, and on all the wreck and devastation, as
it often shines on the dimpling ocean the day after a storm. We
took four men, crossed two severe fords where bridges had been
carried away, and where I and the baggage got very wet; saw great
devastations and much loss of crops and felled timber; passed under
a cliff, which for 200 feet was composed of fine columnar basalt in
six-sided prisms, and quite suddenly emerged on a great plain, on
which green billows of rice were rolling sunlit before a fresh
north wind. This plain is liberally sprinkled with wooded villages
and surrounded by hills; one low range forming a curtain across the
base of Iwakisan, a great snow-streaked dome, which rises to the
west of the plain to a supposed height of 5000 feet. The water had
risen in most of the villages to a height of four feet, and had
washed the lower part of the mud walls away. The people were busy
drying their tatami, futons, and clothing, reconstructing their
dykes and small bridges, and fishing for the logs which were still
coming down in large quantities.

In one town two very shabby policemen rushed upon us, seized the
bridle of my horse, and kept me waiting for a long time in the
middle of a crowd, while they toilsomely bored through the
passport, turning it up and down, and holding it up to the light,
as though there were some nefarious mystery about it. My horse
stumbled so badly that I was obliged to walk to save myself from
another fall, and, just as my powers were failing, we met a kuruma,
which by good management, such as being carried occasionally,
brought me into Kuroishi, a neat town of 5500 people, famous for
the making of clogs and combs, where I have obtained a very neat,
airy, upstairs room, with a good view over the surrounding country
and of the doings of my neighbours in their back rooms and gardens.
Instead of getting on to Aomori I am spending three days and two
nights here, and, as the weather has improved and my room is
remarkably cheerful, the rest has been very pleasant. As I have
said before, it is difficult to get any information about anything
even a few miles off, and even at the Post Office they cannot give
any intelligence as to the date of the sailings of the mail steamer
between Aomori, twenty miles off, and Hakodate.

The police were not satisfied with seeing my passport, but must
also see me, and four of them paid me a polite but domiciliary
visit the evening of my arrival. That evening the sound of
drumming was ceaseless, and soon after I was in bed Ito announced
that there was something really worth seeing, so I went out in my
kimono and without my hat, and in this disguise altogether escaped
recognition as a foreigner. Kuroishi is unlighted, and I was
tumbling and stumbling along in overhaste when a strong arm cleared
the way, and the house-master appeared with a very pretty lantern,
hanging close to the ground from a cane held in the hand. Thus
came the phrase, "Thy word is a light unto my feet."

We soon reached a point for seeing the festival procession advance
towards us, and it was so beautiful and picturesque that it kept me
out for an hour. It passes through all the streets between 7 and
10 p.m. each night during the first week in August, with an ark, or
coffer, containing slips of paper, on which (as I understand)
wishes are written, and each morning at seven this is carried to
the river and the slips are cast upon the stream. The procession
consisted of three monster drums nearly the height of a man's body,
covered with horsehide, and strapped to the drummers, end upwards,
and thirty small drums, all beaten rub-a-dub-dub without ceasing.
Each drum has the tomoye painted on its ends. Then there were
hundreds of paper lanterns carried on long poles of various lengths
round a central lantern, 20 feet high, itself an oblong 6 feet
long, with a front and wings, and all kinds of mythical and
mystical creatures painted in bright colours upon it--a
transparency rather than a lantern, in fact. Surrounding it were
hundreds of beautiful lanterns and transparencies of all sorts of
fanciful shapes--fans, fishes, birds, kites, drums; the hundreds of
people and children who followed all carried circular lanterns, and
rows of lanterns with the tomoye on one side and two Chinese
characters on the other hung from the eaves all along the line of
the procession. I never saw anything more completely like a fairy
scene, the undulating waves of lanterns as they swayed along, the
soft lights and soft tints moving aloft in the darkness, the
lantern-bearers being in deep shadow. This festival is called the
tanabata, or seiseki festival, but I am unable to get any
information about it. Ito says that he knows what it means, but is
unable to explain, and adds the phrase he always uses when in
difficulties, "Mr. Satow would be able to tell you all about it."
I. L. B.


A Lady's Toilet--Hair-dressing--Paint and Cosmetics--Afternoon
Visitors--Christian Converts.

KUROISHI, August 5.

This is a pleasant place, and my room has many advantages besides
light and cleanliness, as, for instance, that I overlook my
neighbours and that I have seen a lady at her toilet preparing for
a wedding! A married girl knelt in front of a black lacquer
toilet-box with a spray of cherry blossoms in gold sprawling over
it, and lacquer uprights at the top, which supported a polished
metal mirror. Several drawers in the toilet-box were open, and
toilet requisites in small lacquer boxes were lying on the floor.
A female barber stood behind the lady, combing, dividing, and tying
her hair, which, like that of all Japanese women, was glossy black,
but neither fine nor long. The coiffure is an erection, a complete
work of art. Two divisions, three inches apart, were made along
the top of the head, and the lock of hair between these was combed,
stiffened with a bandoline made from the Uvario Japonica, raised
two inches from the forehead, turned back, tied, and pinned to the
back hair. The rest was combed from each side to the back, and
then tied loosely with twine made of paper. Several switches of
false hair were then taken out of a long lacquer box, and, with the
aid of a quantity of bandoline and a solid pad, the ordinary smooth
chignon was produced, to which several loops and bows of hair were
added, interwoven with a little dark-blue crepe, spangled with
gold. A single, thick, square-sided, tortoiseshell pin was stuck
through the whole as an ornament.

The fashions of dressing the hair are fixed. They vary with the
ages of female children, and there is a slight difference between
the coiffure of the married and unmarried. The two partings on the
top of the head and the chignon never vary. The amount of
stiffening used is necessary, as the head is never covered out of
doors. This arrangement will last in good order for a week or
more--thanks to the wooden pillow.

The barber's work was only partially done when the hair was
dressed, for every vestige of recalcitrant eyebrow was removed, and
every downy hair which dared to display itself on the temples and
neck was pulled out with tweezers. This removal of all short hair
has a tendency to make even the natural hair look like a wig. Then
the lady herself took a box of white powder, and laid it on her
face, ears, and neck, till her skin looked like a mask. With a
camel's-hair brush she then applied some mixture to her eyelids to
make the bright eyes look brighter, the teeth were blackened, or
rather reblackened, with a feather brush dipped in a solution of
gall-nuts and iron-filings--a tiresome and disgusting process,
several times repeated, and then a patch of red was placed upon the
lower lip. I cannot say that the effect was pleasing, but the girl
thought so, for she turned her head so as to see the general effect
in the mirror, smiled, and was satisfied. The remainder of her
toilet, which altogether took over three hours, was performed in
private, and when she reappeared she looked as if a very unmeaning-
looking wooden doll had been dressed up with the exquisite good
taste, harmony, and quietness which characterise the dress of
Japanese women.

A most rigid social etiquette draws an impassable line of
demarcation between the costume of the virtuous woman in every rank
and that of her frail sister. The humiliating truth that many of
our female fashions are originated by those whose position we the
most regret, and are then carefully copied by all classes of women
in our country, does not obtain credence among Japanese women, to
whom even the slightest approximation in the style of hair-
dressing, ornament, or fashion of garments would be a shame.

I was surprised to hear that three "Christian students" from
Hirosaki wished to see me--three remarkably intelligent-looking,
handsomely-dressed young men, who all spoke a little English. One
of them had the brightest and most intellectual face which I have
seen in Japan. They are of the samurai class, as I should have
known from the superior type of face and manner. They said that
they heard that an English lady was in the house, and asked me if I
were a Christian, but apparently were not satisfied till, in answer
to the question if I had a Bible, I was able to produce one.

Hirosaki is a castle town of some importance, 3.5 ri from here, and
its ex-daimiyo supports a high-class school or college there, which
has had two Americans successively for its headmasters. These
gentlemen must have been very consistent in Christian living as
well as energetic in Christian teaching, for under their auspices
thirty young men have embraced Christianity. As all of these are
well educated, and several are nearly ready to pass as teachers
into Government employment, their acceptance of the "new way" may
have an important bearing on the future of this region.

I. L. B.


A Travelling Curiosity--Rude Dwellings--Primitive Simplicity--The
Public Bath-house.


Yesterday was beautiful, and, dispensing for the first time with
Ito's attendance, I took a kuruma for the day, and had a very
pleasant excursion into a cul de sac in the mountains. The one
drawback was the infamous road, which compelled me either to walk
or be mercilessly jolted. The runner was a nice, kind, merry
creature, quite delighted, Ito said, to have a chance of carrying
so great a sight as a foreigner into a district in which no
foreigner has even been seen. In the absolute security of Japanese
travelling, which I have fully realised for a long time, I look
back upon my fears at Kasukabe with a feeling of self-contempt.

The scenery, which was extremely pretty, gained everything from
sunlight and colour--wonderful shades of cobalt and indigo, green
blues and blue greens, and flashes of white foam in unsuspected
rifts. It looked a simple, home-like region, a very pleasant land.

We passed through several villages of farmers who live in very
primitive habitations, built of mud, looking as if the mud had been
dabbed upon the framework with the hands. The walls sloped
slightly inwards, the thatch was rude, the eaves were deep and
covered all manner of lumber; there was a smoke-hole in a few, but
the majority smoked all over like brick-kilns; they had no windows,
and the walls and rafters were black and shiny. Fowls and horses
live on one side of the dark interior, and the people on the other.
The houses were alive with unclothed children, and as I repassed in
the evening unclothed men and women, nude to their waists, were
sitting outside their dwellings with the small fry, clothed only in
amulets, about them, several big yellow dogs forming part of each
family group, and the faces of dogs, children, and people were all
placidly contented! These farmers owned many good horses, and
their crops were splendid. Probably on matsuri days all appear in
fine clothes taken from ample hoards. They cannot be so poor, as
far as the necessaries of life are concerned; they are only very
"far back." They know nothing better, and are contented; but their
houses are as bad as any that I have ever seen, and the simplicity
of Eden is combined with an amount of dirt which makes me sceptical
as to the performance of even weekly ablutions.

Upper Nakano is very beautiful, and in the autumn, when its myriads
of star-leaved maples are scarlet and crimson, against a dark
background of cryptomeria, among which a great white waterfall
gleams like a snow-drift before it leaps into the black pool below,
it must be well worth a long journey. I have not seen anything
which has pleased me more. There is a fine flight of moss-grown
stone steps down to the water, a pretty bridge, two superb stone
torii, some handsome stone lanterns, and then a grand flight of
steep stone steps up a hill-side dark with cryptomeria leads to a
small Shinto shrine. Not far off there is a sacred tree, with the
token of love and revenge upon it. The whole place is entrancing.

Lower Nakano, which I could only reach on foot, is only interesting
as possessing some very hot springs, which are valuable in cases of
rheumatism and sore eyes. It consists mainly of tea-houses and
yadoyas, and seemed rather gay. It is built round the edge of an
oblong depression, at the bottom of which the bath-houses stand, of
which there are four, only nominally separated, and with but two
entrances, which open directly upon the bathers. In the two end
houses women and children were bathing in large tanks, and in the
centre ones women and men were bathing together, but at opposite
sides, with wooden ledges to sit upon all round. I followed the
kuruma-runner blindly to the baths, and when once in I had to go
out at the other side, being pressed upon by people from behind;
but the bathers were too polite to take any notice of my most
unwilling intrusion, and the kuruma-runner took me in without the
slightest sense of impropriety in so doing. I noticed that formal
politeness prevailed in the bath-house as elsewhere, and that
dippers and towels were handed from one to another with profound
bows. The public bath-house is said to be the place in which
public opinion is formed, as it is with us in clubs and public-
houses, and that the presence of women prevents any dangerous or
seditious consequences; but the Government is doing its best to
prevent promiscuous bathing; and, though the reform may travel
slowly into these remote regions, it will doubtless arrive sooner
or later. The public bath-house is one of the features of Japan.

I. L. B.


A Hard Day's Journey--An Overturn--Nearing the Ocean--Joyful
Excitement--Universal Greyness--Inopportune Policemen--A Stormy
Voyage--A Wild Welcome--A Windy Landing--The Journey's End.

HAKODATE, YEZO, August, 1878.

The journey from Kuroishi to Aomori, though only 22.5 miles, was a
tremendous one, owing to the state of the roads; for more rain had
fallen, and the passage of hundreds of pack-horses heavily loaded
with salt-fish had turned the tracks into quagmires. At the end of
the first stage the Transport Office declined to furnish a kuruma,
owing to the state of the roads; but, as I was not well enough to
ride farther, I bribed two men for a very moderate sum to take me
to the coast; and by accommodating each other we got on tolerably,
though I had to walk up all the hills and down many, to get out at
every place where a little bridge had been carried away, that the
kuruma might be lifted over the gap, and often to walk for 200
yards at a time, because it sank up to its axles in the quagmire.
In spite of all precautions I was upset into a muddy ditch, with
the kuruma on the top of me; but, as my air-pillow fortunately fell
between the wheel and me, I escaped with nothing worse than having
my clothes soaked with water and mud, which, as I had to keep them
on all night, might have given me cold, but did not. We met
strings of pack-horses the whole way, carrying salt-fish, which is
taken throughout the interior.

The mountain-ridge, which runs throughout the Main Island, becomes
depressed in the province of Nambu, but rises again into grand,
abrupt hills at Aomori Bay. Between Kuroishi and Aomori, however,
it is broken up into low ranges, scantily wooded, mainly with pine,
scrub oak, and the dwarf bamboo. The Sesamum ignosco, of which the
incense-sticks are made, covers some hills to the exclusion of all
else. Rice grows in the valleys, but there is not much
cultivation, and the country looks rough, cold, and hyperborean.

The farming hamlets grew worse and worse, with houses made roughly
of mud, with holes scratched in the side for light to get in, or
for smoke to get out, and the walls of some were only great pieces
of bark and bundles of straw tied to the posts with straw ropes.
The roofs were untidy, but this was often concealed by the profuse
growth of the water-melons which trailed over them. The people
were very dirty, but there was no appearance of special poverty,
and a good deal of money must be made on the horses and mago
required for the transit of fish from Yezo, and for rice to it.

At Namioka occurred the last of the very numerous ridges we have
crossed since leaving Nikko at a point called Tsugarusaka, and from
it looked over a rugged country upon a dark-grey sea, nearly
landlocked by pine-clothed hills, of a rich purple indigo colour.
The clouds were drifting, the colour was intensifying, the air was
fresh and cold, the surrounding soil was peaty, the odours of pines
were balsamic, it looked, felt, and smelt like home; the grey sea
was Aomori Bay, beyond was the Tsugaru Strait,--my long land-
journey was done. A traveller said a steamer was sailing for Yezo
at night, so, in a state of joyful excitement, I engaged four men,
and by dragging, pushing, and lifting, they got me into Aomori, a
town of grey houses, grey roofs, and grey stones on roofs, built on
a beach of grey sand, round a grey bay--a miserable-looking place,
though the capital of the ken.

It has a great export trade in cattle and rice to Yezo, besides
being the outlet of an immense annual emigration from northern
Japan to the Yezo fishery, and imports from Hakodate large
quantities of fish, skins, and foreign merchandise. It has some
trade in a pretty but not valuable "seaweed," or variegated
lacquer, called Aomori lacquer, but not actually made there, its
own speciality being a sweetmeat made of beans and sugar. It has a
deep and well-protected harbour, but no piers or conveniences for
trade. It has barracks and the usual Government buildings, but
there was no time to learn anything about it,--only a short half-
hour for getting my ticket at the Mitsu Bishi office, where they
demanded and copied my passport; for snatching a morsel of fish at
a restaurant where "foreign food" was represented by a very dirty
table-cloth; and for running down to the grey beach, where I was
carried into a large sampan crowded with Japanese steerage

The wind was rising, a considerable surf was running, the spray was
flying over the boat, the steamer had her steam up, and was ringing
and whistling impatiently, there was a scud of rain, and I was
standing trying to keep my paper waterproof from being blown off,
when three inopportune policemen jumped into the boat and demanded
my passport. For a moment I wished them and the passport under the
waves! The steamer is a little old paddle-boat of about 70 tons,
with no accommodation but a single cabin on deck. She was as clean
and trim as a yacht, and, like a yacht, totally unfit for bad
weather. Her captain, engineers, and crew were all Japanese, and
not a word of English was spoken. My clothes were very wet, and
the night was colder than the day had been, but the captain kindly
covered me up with several blankets on the floor, so I did not
suffer. We sailed early in the evening, with a brisk northerly
breeze, which chopped round to the south-east, and by eleven blew a
gale; the sea ran high, the steamer laboured and shipped several
heavy seas, much water entered the cabin, the captain came below
every half-hour, tapped the barometer, sipped some tea, offered me
a lump of sugar, and made a face and gesture indicative of bad
weather, and we were buffeted about mercilessly till 4 a.m., when
heavy rain came on, and the gale fell temporarily with it. The
boat is not fit for a night passage, and always lies in port when
bad weather is expected; and as this was said to be the severest
gale which has swept the Tsugaru Strait since January, the captain
was uneasy about her, but being so, showed as much calmness as if
he had been a Briton!

The gale rose again after sunrise, and when, after doing sixty
miles in fourteen hours, we reached the heads of Hakodate Harbour,
it was blowing and pouring like a bad day in Argyllshire, the spin-
drift was driving over the bay, the Yezo mountains loomed darkly
and loftily through rain and mist, and wind and thunder, and
"noises of the northern sea," gave me a wild welcome to these
northern shores. A rocky head like Gibraltar, a cold-blooded-
looking grey town, straggling up a steep hillside, a few coniferae,
a great many grey junks, a few steamers and vessels of foreign rig
at anchor, a number of sampans riding the rough water easily, seen
in flashes between gusts of rain and spin-drift, were all I saw,
but somehow it all pleased me from its breezy, northern look.

The steamer was not expected in the gale, so no one met me, and I
went ashore with fifty Japanese clustered on the top of a decked
sampan in such a storm of wind and rain that it took us 1.5 hours
to go half a mile; then I waited shelterless on the windy beach
till the Customs' Officers were roused from their late slumbers,
and then battled with the storm for a mile up a steep hill. I was
expected at the hospitable Consulate, but did not know it, and came
here to the Church Mission House, to which Mr. and Mrs. Dening
kindly invited me when I met them in Tokiyo. I was unfit to enter
a civilised dwelling; my clothes, besides being soaked, were coated
and splashed with mud up to the top of my hat; my gloves and boots
were finished, my mud-splashed baggage was soaked with salt water;
but I feel a somewhat legitimate triumph at having conquered all
obstacles, and having accomplished more than I intended to
accomplish when I left Yedo.

How musical the clamour of the northern ocean is! How inspiriting
the shrieking and howling of the boisterous wind! Even the fierce
pelting of the rain is home-like, and the cold in which one shivers
is stimulating! You cannot imagine the delight of being in a room
with a door that will lock, to be in a bed instead of on a
stretcher, of finding twenty-three letters containing good news,
and of being able to read them in warmth and quietness under the
roof of an English home!

I. L. B.


No. of Houses. Ri. Cho.

Kisaki 56 4
Tsuiji 209 6
Kurokawa 215 2 12
Hanadati 2O 2
Kawaguchi 27 3
Numa 24 1 18
Tamagawa 40 3
Okuni 210 2 11
Kurosawa 17 1 18
Ichinono 2O 1 18
Shirokasawa 42 1 21
Tenoko 120 3 11
Komatsu 513 2 13
Akayu 350 4
Kaminoyama 650 5
Yamagata 21,O00 souls 3 19
Tendo 1,040 3 8
Tateoka 307 3 21
Tochiida 217 1 33
Obanasawa 506 1 21
Ashizawa 70 1 21
Shinjo 1,060 4 6
Kanayama 165 3 27
Nosoki 37 3 9
Innai 257 3 12
Yusawa 1,506 3 35
Yokote 2,070 4 27
Rokugo 1,062 6
Shingoji 209 1 28
Kubota 36,587 souls 16
Minato 2,108 1 28
Carry forward 107 21

No. of Houses Ri. Cho.
Brought forward 107 21
Abukawa 163 3 33
Ichi Nichi Ichi 306 1 34
Kado 151 2 9
Hinikoyama 396 2 9
Tsugurata 186 1 14
Tubine 153 1 18
Kiriishi 31 1 14
Kotsunagi 47 1 16
Tsuguriko 136 3 5
Odate 1,673 4 23
Shirasawa 71 2 19
Ikarigaseki 175 4 18
Kuroishi 1,176 6 19
Daishaka 43 4
Shinjo 51 2 21
Aomori 1 24
Ri 153 9
About 368 miles.

This is considerably under the actual distance, as on several of
the mountain routes the ri is 56 cho, but in the lack of accurate
information the ri has been taken at its ordinary standard of 36
cho throughout.


Form and Colour--A Windy Capital--Eccentricities in House Roofs.

HAKODATE, YEZO, August 13, 1878

After a tremendous bluster for two days the weather has become
beautifully fine, and I find the climate here more invigorating
than that of the main island. It is Japan, but yet there is a
difference somehow. When the mists lift they reveal not mountains
smothered in greenery, but naked peaks, volcanoes only recently
burnt out, with the red ash flaming under the noonday sun, and
passing through shades of pink into violet at sundown. Strips of
sand border the bay, ranges of hills, with here and there a patch
of pine or scrub, fade into the far-off blue, and the great cloud
shadows lie upon their scored sides in indigo and purple. Blue as
the Adriatic are the waters of the land-locked bay, and the snowy
sails of pale junks look whiter than snow against its intense
azure. The abruptness of the double peaks behind the town is
softened by a belt of cryptomeria, the sandy strip which connects
the headland with the mainland heightens the general resemblance of
the contour of the ground to Gibraltar; but while one dreams of the
western world a kuruma passes one at a trot, temple drums are
beaten in a manner which does not recall "the roll of the British
drum," a Buddhist funeral passes down the street, or a man-cart
pulled and pushed by four yellow-skinned, little-clothed mannikins,
creaks by, with the monotonous grunt of Ha huida.

A single look at Hakodate itself makes one feel that it is Japan
all over. The streets are very wide and clean, but the houses are
mean and low. The city looks as if it had just recovered from a
conflagration. The houses are nothing but tinder. The grand tile
roofs of some other cities are not to be seen. There is not an
element of permanence in the wide, and windy streets. It is an
increasing and busy place; it lies for two miles along the shore,
and has climbed the hill till it can go no higher; but still houses
and people look poor. It has a skeleton aspect too, which is
partially due to the number of permanent "clothes-horses" on the
roofs. Stones, however, are its prominent feature. Looking down
upon it from above you see miles of grey boulders, and realise that
every roof in the windy capital is "hodden doun" by a weight of
paving stones. Nor is this all. Some of the flatter roofs are
pebbled all over like a courtyard, and others, such as the roof of
this house, for instance, are covered with sod and crops of grass,
the two latter arrangements being precautions against risks from
sparks during fires. These paving stones are certainly the
cheapest possible mode of keeping the roofs on the houses in such a
windy region, but they look odd.

None of the streets, except one high up the hill, with a row of
fine temples and temple grounds, call for any notice. Nearly every
house is a shop; most of the shops supply only the ordinary
articles consumed by a large and poor population; either real or
imitated foreign goods abound in Main Street, and the only
novelties are the furs, skins, and horns, which abound in shops
devoted to their sale. I covet the great bear furs and the deep
cream-coloured furs of Aino dogs, which are cheap as well as
handsome. There are many second-hand, or, as they are called,
"curio" shops, and the cheap lacquer from Aomori is also tempting
to a stranger.

I. L. B.


Ito's Delinquency--"Missionary Manners"--A Predicted Failure.


I am enjoying Hakodate so much that, though my tour is all planned
and my arrangements are made, I linger on from day to day. There
has been an unpleasant eclaircissement about Ito. You will
remember that I engaged him without a character, and that he told
both Lady Parkes and me that after I had done so his former master,
Mr. Maries, asked him to go back to him, to which he had replied
that he had "a contract with a lady." Mr. Maries is here, and I
now find that he had a contract with Ito, by which Ito bound
himself to serve him as long as he required him, for $7 a month,
but that, hearing that I offered $12, he ran away from him and
entered my service with a lie! Mr. Maries has been put to the
greatest inconvenience by his defection, and has been hindered
greatly in completing his botanical collection, for Ito is very
clever, and he had not only trained him to dry plants successfully,
but he could trust him to go away for two or three days and collect
seeds. I am very sorry about it. He says that Ito was a bad boy
when he came to him, but he thinks that he cured him of some of his
faults, and that he has served me faithfully. I have seen Mr.
Maries at the Consul's, and have arranged that, after my Yezo tour
is over, Ito shall be returned to his rightful master, who will
take him to China and Formosa for a year and a half, and who, I
think, will look after his well-being in every way. Dr. and Mrs.
Hepburn, who are here, heard a bad account of the boy after I began
my travels and were uneasy about me, but, except for this original
lie, I have no fault to find with him, and his Shinto creed has not
taught him any better. When I paid him his wages this morning he
asked me if I had any fault to find, and I told him of my objection
to his manners, which he took in very good part and promised to
amend them; "but," he added, "mine are just missionary manners!"

Yesterday I dined at the Consulate, to meet Count Diesbach, of the
French Legation, Mr. Von Siebold, of the Austrian Legation, and
Lieutenant Kreitner, of the Austrian army, who start to-morrow on
an exploring expedition in the interior, intending to cross the
sources of the rivers which fall into the sea on the southern coast
and measure the heights of some of the mountains. They are "well
found" in food and claret, but take such a number of pack-ponies
with them that I predict that they will fail, and that I, who have
reduced my luggage to 45 lbs., will succeed!

I hope to start on my long-projected tour to-morrow; I have planned
it for myself with the confidence of an experienced traveller, and
look forward to it with great pleasure, as a visit to the
aborigines is sure to be full of novel and interesting experiences.
Good-bye for a long time. I. L. B.


A Lovely Sunset--An Official Letter--A "Front Horse"--Japanese
Courtesy--The Steam Ferry--Coolies Abscond--A Team of Savages--A
Drove of Horses--Floral Beauties--An Unbeaten Track--A Ghostly
Dwelling--Solitude and Eeriness.


I am once again in the wilds! I am sitting outside an upper room
built out almost over a lonely lake, with wooded points purpling
and still shadows deepening in the sinking sun. A number of men
are dragging down the nearest hillside the carcass of a bear which
they have just despatched with spears. There is no village, and
the busy clatter of the cicada and the rustle of the forest are the
only sounds which float on the still evening air. The sunset
colours are pink and green; on the tinted water lie the waxen cups
of great water-lilies, and above the wooded heights the pointed,
craggy, and altogether naked summit of the volcano of Komono-taki
flushes red in the sunset. Not the least of the charms of the
evening is that I am absolutely alone, having ridden the eighteen
miles from Hakodate without Ito or an attendant of any kind; have
unsaddled my own horse, and by means of much politeness and a
dexterous use of Japanese substantives have secured a good room and
supper of rice, eggs, and black beans for myself and a mash of
beans for my horse, which, as it belongs to the Kaitakushi, and has
the dignity of iron shoes, is entitled to special consideration!

I am not yet off the "beaten track," but my spirits are rising with
the fine weather, the drier atmosphere, and the freedom of Yezo.
Yezo is to the main island of Japan what Tipperary is to an
Englishman, Barra to a Scotchman, "away down in Texas" to a New
Yorker--in the rough, little known, and thinly-peopled; and people
can locate all sorts of improbable stories here without much fear
of being found out, of which the Ainos and the misdeeds of the
ponies furnish the staple, and the queer doings of men and dogs,
and adventures with bears, wolves, and salmon, the embroidery.
Nobody comes here without meeting with something queer, and one or
two tumbles either with or from his horse. Very little is known of
the interior except that it is covered with forest matted together
by lianas, and with an undergrowth of scrub bamboo impenetrable
except to the axe, varied by swamps equally impassable, which give
rise to hundreds of rivers well stocked with fish. The glare of
volcanoes is seen in different parts of the island. The forests
are the hunting-grounds of the Ainos, who are complete savages in
everything but their disposition, which is said to be so gentle and
harmless that I may go among them with perfect safety.

Kindly interest has been excited by the first foray made by a lady
into the country of the aborigines; and Mr. Eusden, the Consul, has
worked upon the powers that be with such good effect that the
Governor has granted me a shomon, a sort of official letter or
certificate, giving me a right to obtain horses and coolies
everywhere at the Government rate of 6 sen a ri, with a prior claim
to accommodation at the houses kept up for officials on their
circuits, and to help and assistance from officials generally; and
the Governor has further telegraphed to the other side of Volcano
Bay desiring the authorities to give me the use of the Government
kuruma as long as I need it, and to detain the steamer to suit my
convenience! With this document, which enables me to dispense with
my passport, I shall find travelling very easy, and I am very
grateful to the Consul for procuring it for me.

Here, where rice and tea have to be imported, there is a uniform
charge at the yadoyas of 30 sen a day, which includes three meals,
whether you eat them or not. Horses are abundant, but are small,
and are not up to heavy weights. They are entirely unshod, and,
though their hoofs are very shallow and grow into turned-up points
and other singular shapes, they go over rough ground with facility
at a scrambling run of over four miles an hour following a leader
called a "front horse." If you don't get a "front horse" and try
to ride in front, you find that your horse will not stir till he
has another before him; and then you are perfectly helpless, as he
follows the movements of his leader without any reference to your
wishes. There are no mago; a man rides the "front horse" and goes
at whatever pace you please, or, if you get a "front horse," you
may go without any one. Horses are cheap and abundant. They drive
a number of them down from the hills every morning into corrals in
the villages, and keep them there till they are wanted. Because
they are so cheap they are very badly used. I have not seen one
yet without a sore back, produced by the harsh pack-saddle rubbing
up and down the spine, as the loaded animals are driven at a run.
They are mostly very poor-looking.

As there was some difficulty about getting a horse for me the
Consul sent one of the Kaitakushi saddle-horses, a handsome, lazy
animal, which I rarely succeeded in stimulating into a heavy
gallop. Leaving Ito to follow with the baggage, I enjoyed my
solitary ride and the possibility of choosing my own pace very
much, though the choice was only between a slow walk and the
lumbering gallop aforesaid.

I met strings of horses loaded with deer hides, and overtook other
strings loaded with sake and manufactured goods and in each case
had a fight with my sociably inclined animal. In two villages I
was interested to see that the small shops contained lucifer
matches, cotton umbrellas, boots, brushes, clocks, slates, and
pencils, engravings in frames, kerosene lamps, {18} and red and
green blankets, all but the last, which are unmistakable British
"shoddy," being Japanese imitations of foreign manufactured goods,
more or less cleverly executed. The road goes up hill for fifteen
miles, and, after passing Nanai, a trim Europeanised village in the
midst of fine crops, one of the places at which the Government is
making acclimatisation and other agricultural experiments, it
fairly enters the mountains, and from the top of a steep hill there
is a glorious view of Hakodate Head, looking like an island in the
deep blue sea, and from the top of a higher hill, looking
northward, a magnificent view of the volcano with its bare, pink
summit rising above three lovely lakes densely wooded. These are
the flushed scaurs and outbreaks of bare rock for which I sighed
amidst the smothering greenery of the main island, and the silver
gleam of the lakes takes away the blindness from the face of
nature. It was delicious to descend to the water's edge in the
dewy silence amidst balsamic odours, to find not a clattering grey
village with its monotony, but a single, irregularly-built house,
with lovely surroundings.

It is a most displeasing road for most of the way; sides with deep
corrugations, and in the middle a high causeway of earth, whose
height is being added to by hundreds of creels of earth brought on
ponies' backs. It is supposed that carriages and waggons will use
this causeway, but a shying horse or a bad driver would overturn
them. As it is at present the road is only passable for pack-
horses, owing to the number of broken bridges. I passed strings of
horses laden with sake going into the interior. The people of Yezo
drink freely, and the poor Ainos outrageously. On the road I
dismounted to rest myself by walking up hill, and, the saddle being
loosely girthed, the gear behind it dragged it round and under the
body of the horse, and it was too heavy for me to lift on his back
again. When I had led him for some time two Japanese with a string
of pack-horses loaded with deer-hides met me, and not only put the
saddle on again, but held the stirrup while I remounted, and bowed
politely when I went away. Who could help liking such a courteous
and kindly people?


Even Ginsainoma was not Paradise after dark, and I was actually
driven to bed early by the number of mosquitoes. Ito is in an
excellent humour on this tour. Like me, he likes the freedom of
the Hokkaido. He is much more polite and agreeable also, and very
proud of the Governor's shomon, with which he swaggers into hotels
and Transport Offices. I never get on so well as when he arranges
for me. Saturday was grey and lifeless, and the ride of seven
miles here along a sandy road through monotonous forest and swamp,
with the volcano on one side and low wooded hills on the other, was
wearisome and fatiguing. I saw five large snakes all in a heap,
and a number more twisting through the grass. There are no
villages, but several very poor tea-houses, and on the other side
of the road long sheds with troughs hollowed like canoes out of the
trunks of trees, containing horse food. Here nobody walks, and the
men ride at a quick run, sitting on the tops of their pack-saddles
with their legs crossed above their horses' necks, and wearing
large hats like coal-scuttle bonnets. The horses are infested with
ticks, hundreds upon one animal sometimes, and occasionally they
become so mad from the irritation that they throw themselves
suddenly on the ground, and roll over load and rider. I saw this
done twice. The ticks often transfer themselves to the riders.

Mori is a large, ramshackle village, near the southern point of
Volcano Bay--a wild, dreary-looking place on a sandy shore, with a
number of joroyas and disreputable characters. Several of the
yadoyas are not respectable, but I rather like this one, and it has
a very fine view of the volcano, which forms one point of the bay.
Mori has no anchorage, though it has an unfinished pier 345 feet
long. The steam ferry across the mouth of the bay is here, and
there is a very difficult bridle-track running for nearly 100 miles
round the bay besides, and a road into the interior. But it is a
forlorn, decayed place. Last night the inn was very noisy, as some
travellers in the next room to mine hired geishas, who played,
sang, and danced till two in the morning, and the whole party
imbibed sake freely. In this comparatively northern latitude the
summer is already waning. The seeds of the blossoms which were in
their glory when I arrived are ripe, and here and there a tinge of
yellow on a hillside, or a scarlet spray of maple, heralds the
glories and the coolness of autumn.


A loud yell of "steamer," coupled with the information that "she
could not wait one minute," broke in upon go and everything else,
and in a broiling sun we hurried down to the pier, and with a heap
of Japanese, who filled two scows, were put on board a steamer not
bigger than a large decked steam launch, where the natives were all
packed into a covered hole, and I was conducted with much ceremony
to the forecastle, a place at the bow 5 feet square, full of coils
of rope, shut in, and left to solitude and dignity, and the stare
of eight eyes, which perseveringly glowered through the windows!
The steamer had been kept waiting for me on the other side for two
days, to the infinite disgust of two foreigners, who wished to
return to Hakodate, and to mine.

It was a splendid day, with foam crests on the wonderfully blue
water, and the red ashes of the volcano, which forms the south
point of the bay, glowed in the sunlight. This wretched steamer,
whose boilers are so often "sick" that she can never be relied
upon, is the only means of reaching the new capital without taking
a most difficult and circuitous route. To continue the pier and
put a capable good steamer on the ferry would be a useful
expenditure of money. The breeze was strong and in our favour, but
even with this it took us six weary hours to steam twenty-five
miles, and it was eight at night before we reached the beautiful
and almost land-locked bay of Mororan, with steep, wooded sides,
and deep water close to the shore, deep enough for the foreign
ships of war which occasionally anchor there, much to the detriment
of the town. We got off in over-crowded sampans, and several
people fell into the water, much to their own amusement. The
servants from the different yadoyas go down to the jetty to "tout"
for guests with large paper lanterns, and the effect of these, one
above another, waving and undulating, with their soft coloured
light, was as bewitching as the reflection of the stars in the
motionless water. Mororan is a small town very picturesquely
situated on the steep shore of a most lovely bay, with another
height, richly wooded, above it, with shrines approached by flights
of stone stairs, and behind this hill there is the first Aino
village along this coast.

The long, irregular street is slightly picturesque, but I was
impressed both with the unusual sight of loafers and with the
dissolute look of the place, arising from the number of joroyas,
and from the number of yadoyas that are also haunts of the vicious.
I could only get a very small room in a very poor and dirty inn,
but there were no mosquitoes, and I got a good meal of fish. On
sending to order horses I found that everything was arranged for my
journey. The Governor sent his card early, to know if there were
anything I should like to see or do, but, as the morning was grey
and threatening, I wished to push on, and at 9.30 I was in the
kuruma at the inn door. I call it the kuruma because it is the
only one, and is kept by the Government for the conveyance of
hospital patients. I sat there uncomfortably and patiently for
half an hour, my only amusement being the flirtations of Ito with a
very pretty girl. Loiterers assembled, but no one came to draw the
vehicle, and by degrees the dismal truth leaked out that the three
coolies who had been impressed for the occasion had all absconded,
and that four policemen were in search of them. I walked on in a
dawdling way up the steep hill which leads from the town, met Mr.
Akboshi, a pleasant young Japanese surveyor, who spoke English and
stigmatised Mororan as "the worst place in Yezo;" and, after fuming
for two hours at the waste of time, was overtaken by Ito with the
horses, in a boiling rage. "They're the worst and wickedest
coolies in all Japan," he stammered; "two more ran away, and now
three are coming, and have got paid for four, and the first three
who ran away got paid, and the Express man's so ashamed for a
foreigner, and the Governor's in a furious rage."

Except for the loss of time it made no difference to me, but when
the kuruma did come up the runners were three such ruffianly-
looking men, and were dressed so wildly in bark cloth, that, in
sending Ito on twelve miles to secure relays, I sent my money along
with him. These men, though there were three instead of two, never
went out of a walk, and, as if on purpose, took the vehicle over
every stone and into every rut, and kept up a savage chorus of
"haes-ha, haes-hora" the whole time, as if they were pulling stone-
carts. There are really no runners out of Hakodate, and the men
don't know how to pull, and hate doing it.

Mororan Bay is truly beautiful from the top of the ascent. The
coast scenery of Japan generally is the loveliest I have ever seen,
except that of a portion of windward Hawaii, and this yields in
beauty to none. The irregular grey town, with a grey temple on the
height above, straggles round the little bay on a steep, wooded
terrace; hills, densely wooded, and with a perfect entanglement of
large-leaved trailers, descend abruptly to the water's edge; the
festoons of the vines are mirrored in the still waters; and above
the dark forest, and beyond the gleaming sea, rises the red, peaked
top of the volcano. Then the road dips abruptly to sandy
swellings, rising into bold headlands here and there; and for the
first time I saw the surge of 5000 miles of unbroken ocean break
upon the shore. Glimpses of the Pacific, an uncultivated, swampy
level quite uninhabited, and distant hills mainly covered with
forest, made up the landscape till I reached Horobets, a mixed
Japanese and Aino village built upon the sand near the sea.

In these mixed villages the Ainos are compelled to live at a
respectful distance from the Japanese, and frequently out-number
them, as at Horobets, where there are forty-seven Aino and only
eighteen Japanese houses. The Aino village looks larger than it
really is, because nearly every house has a kura, raised six feet
from the ground by wooden stilts. When I am better acquainted with
the houses I shall describe them; at present I will only say that
they do not resemble the Japanese houses so much as the Polynesian,
as they are made of reeds very neatly tied upon a wooden framework.
They have small windows, and roofs of a very great height, and
steep pitch, with the thatch in a series of very neat frills, and
the ridge poles covered with reeds, and ornamented. The coast
Ainos are nearly all engaged in fishing, but at this season the men
hunt deer in the forests. On this coast there are several names
compounded with bets or pets, the Aino for a river, such as
Horobets, Yubets, Mombets, etc.

I found that Ito had been engaged for a whole hour in a violent
altercation, which was caused by the Transport Agent refusing to
supply runners for the kuruma, saying that no one in Horobets would
draw one, but on my producing the shomon I was at once started on
my journey of sixteen miles with three Japanese lads, Ito riding on
to Shiraoi to get my room ready. I think that the Transport
Offices in Yezo are in Government hands. In a few minutes three
Ainos ran out of a house, took the kuruma, and went the whole stage
without stopping. They took a boy and three saddled horses along
with them to bring them back, and rode and hauled alternately, two
youths always attached to the shafts, and a man pushing behind.
They were very kind, and so courteous, after a new fashion, that I
quite forgot that I was alone among savages. The lads were young
and beardless, their lips were thick, and their mouths very wide,
and I thought that they approached more nearly to the Eskimo type
than to any other. They had masses of soft black hair falling on
each side of their faces. The adult man was not a pure Aino. His
dark hair was not very thick, and both it and his beard had an
occasional auburn gleam. I think I never saw a face more
completely beautiful in features and expression, with a lofty, sad,
far-off, gentle, intellectual look, rather that of Sir Noel Paton's
"Christ" than of a savage. His manner was most graceful, and he
spoke both Aino and Japanese in the low musical tone which I find
is a characteristic of Aino speech. These Ainos never took off
their clothes, but merely let them fall from one or both shoulders
when it was very warm.

The road from Horobets to Shiraoi is very solitary, with not more
than four or five houses the whole way. It is broad and straight,
except when it ascends hills or turns inland to cross rivers, and
is carried across a broad swampy level, covered with tall wild
flowers, which extends from the high beach thrown up by the sea for
two miles inland, where there is a lofty wall of wooded rock, and
beyond this the forest-covered mountains of the interior. On the
top of the raised beach there were Aino hamlets, and occasionally a
nearly overpowering stench came across the level from the sheds and
apparatus used for extracting fish-oil. I enjoyed the afternoon
thoroughly. It is so good to have got beyond the confines of
stereotyped civilisation and the trammels of Japanese travelling to
the solitude of nature and an atmosphere of freedom. It was grey,
with a hard, dark line of ocean horizon, and over the weedy level
the grey road, with grey telegraph-poles along it, stretched
wearisomely like a grey thread. The breeze came up from the sea,
rustled the reeds, and waved the tall plumes of the Eulalia
japonica, and the thunder of the Pacific surges boomed through the
air with its grand, deep bass. Poetry and music pervaded the
solitude, and my spirit was rested.

Going up and then down a steep, wooded hill, the road appeared to
return to its original state of brushwood, and the men stopped at
the broken edge of a declivity which led down to a shingle bank and
a foam-crested river of clear, blue-green water, strongly
impregnated with sulphur from some medicinal springs above, with a
steep bank of tangle on the opposite side. This beautiful stream
was crossed by two round poles, a foot apart, on which I attempted
to walk with the help of an Aino hand; but the poles were very
unsteady, and I doubt whether any one, even with a strong head,
could walk on them in boots. Then the beautiful Aino signed to me
to come back and mount on his shoulders; but when he had got a few
feet out the poles swayed and trembled so much that he was obliged
to retrace his way cautiously, during which process I endured
miseries from dizziness and fear; after which he carried me through
the rushing water, which was up to his shoulders, and through a bit
of swampy jungle, and up a steep bank, to the great fatigue both of
body and mind, hardly mitigated by the enjoyment of the ludicrous
in riding a savage through these Yezo waters. They dexterously
carried the kuruma through, on the shoulders of four, and showed
extreme anxiety that neither it nor I should get wet. After this
we crossed two deep, still rivers in scows, and far above the grey
level and the grey sea the sun was setting in gold and vermilion-
streaked green behind a glorified mountain of great height, at
whose feet the forest-covered hills lay in purple gloom. At dark
we reached Shiraoi, a village of eleven Japanese houses, with a
village of fifty-one Aino houses, near the sea. There is a large
yadoya of the old style there; but I found that Ito had chosen a
very pretty new one, with four stalls open to the road, in the
centre one of which I found him, with the welcome news that a steak
of fresh salmon was broiling on the coals; and, as the room was
clean and sweet and I was very hungry, I enjoyed my meal by the
light of a rush in a saucer of fish-oil as much as any part of the


The night was too cold for sleep, and at daybreak, hearing a great
din, I looked out, and saw a drove of fully a hundred horses all
galloping down the road, with two Ainos on horse-back, and a number
of big dogs after them. Hundreds of horses run nearly wild on the
hills, and the Ainos, getting a large drove together, skilfully
head them for the entrance into the corral, in which a selection of
them is made for the day's needs, and the remainder--that is, those
with the deepest sores on their backs--are turned loose. This dull
rattle of shoeless feet is the first sound in the morning in these
Yezo villages. I sent Ito on early, and followed at nine with
three Ainos. The road is perfectly level for thirteen miles,
through gravel flats and swamps, very monotonous, but with a wild
charm of its own. There were swampy lakes, with wild ducks and
small white water-lilies, and the surrounding levels were covered
with reedy grass, flowers, and weeds. The early autumn has
withered a great many of the flowers; but enough remains to show
how beautiful the now russet plains must have been in the early
summer. A dwarf rose, of a deep crimson colour, with orange,
medlar-shaped hips, as large as crabs, and corollas three inches
across, is one of the features of Yezo; and besides, there is a
large rose-red convolvulus, a blue campanula, with tiers of bells,
a blue monkshood, the Aconitum Japonicum, the flaunting Calystegia
soldanella, purple asters, grass of Parnassus, yellow lilies, and a
remarkable trailer, whose delicate leafage looked quite out of
place among its coarse surroundings, with a purplish-brown
campanulate blossom, only remarkable for a peculiar arrangement of
the pistil, green stamens, and a most offensive carrion-like odour,
which is probably to attract to it a very objectionable-looking
fly, for purposes of fertilisation.

We overtook four Aino women, young and comely, with bare feet,
striding firmly along; and after a good deal of laughing with the
men, they took hold of the kuruma, and the whole seven raced with
it at full speed for half a mile, shrieking with laughter. Soon
after we came upon a little tea-house, and the Ainos showed me a
straw package, and pointed to their open mouths, by which I
understood that they wished to stop and eat. Later we overtook
four Japanese on horseback, and the Ainos raced with them for a
considerable distance, the result of these spurts being that I
reached Tomakomai at noon--a wide, dreary place, with houses roofed
with sod, bearing luxuriant crops of weeds. Near this place is the
volcano of Tarumai, a calm-looking, grey cone, whose skirts are
draped by tens of thousands of dead trees. So calm and grey had it
looked for many a year that people supposed it had passed into
endless rest, when quite lately, on a sultry day, it blew off its
cap and covered the whole country for many a mile with cinders and
ashes, burning up the forest on its sides, adding a new covering to
the Tomakomai roofs, and depositing fine ash as far as Cape Erimo,
fifty miles off.

At this place the road and telegraph wires turn inland to
Satsuporo, and a track for horses only turns to the north-east, and
straggles round the island for about seven hundred miles. From
Mororan to Sarufuto there are everywhere traces of new and old
volcanic action--pumice, tufas, conglomerates, and occasional beds
of hard basalt, all covered with recent pumice, which, from Shiraoi
eastwards, conceals everything. At Tomakomai we took horses, and,
as I brought my own saddle, I have had the nearest approach to real
riding that I have enjoyed in Japan. The wife of a Satsuporo
doctor was there, who was travelling for two hundred miles astride
on a pack-saddle, with rope-loops for stirrups. She rode well, and
vaulted into my saddle with circus-like dexterity, and performed
many equestrian feats upon it, telling me that she should be quite
happy if she were possessed of it.

I was happy when I left the "beaten track" to Satsuporo, and saw
before me, stretching for I know not how far, rolling, sandy
machirs like those of the Outer Hebrides, desert-like and lonely,
covered almost altogether with dwarf roses and campanulas, a
prairie land on which you can make any tracks you please. Sending
the others on, I followed them at the Yezo scramble, and soon
ventured on a long gallop, and revelled in the music of the thud of
shoeless feet over the elastic soil; but I had not realised the
peculiarities of Yezo steeds, and had forgotten to ask whether mine
was a "front horse," and just as we were going at full speed we
came nearly up with the others, and my horse coming abruptly to a
full stop, I went six feet over his head among the rose-bushes.
Ito looking back saw me tightening the saddle-girths, and I never
divulged this escapade.

After riding eight miles along this breezy belt, with the sea on
one side and forests on the other, we came upon Yubets, a place
which has fascinated me so much that I intend to return to it; but


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