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Lafcadio Hearn

1 THE hair of the younger daughter of the family is very long; and it is a spectacle of no small interest to see it dressed. It is dressed once in every three days; and the operation, which costs four sen, is acknowledged to require one hour. As a matter of fact it requires nearly two. The hairdresser (kamiyui) first sends her maiden apprentice, who cleans the hair, washes it, perfumes it, and combs it with extraordinary combs of at least five different kinds.

1

MATSUE, September 2, 1890.

I AM under contract to serve as English teacher in the Jinjo Chugakko, or Ordinary Middle School, and also in the ShihanGakko, or Normal School, of Matsue, Izumo, for the term of one year.

The Jinjo Chugakko is an immense two-story wooden building in European style, painted a dark grey-blue. It has accommodations for nearly three hundred day scholars. It is situated in one corner of a great square of ground, bounded on two sides by canals, and on the other two by very quiet streets. This site is very near the ancient castle.

1 Toyo-uke-bime-no-Kami, or Uka-no-mi-tana ('who has also eight other names), is a female divinity, according to the Kojiki and its commentators. Moreover, the greatest of all Shinto scholars, Hirata, as cited by Satow, says there is really no such god as Inari-San at all - that the very name is an error. But the common people have created the God Inari: therefore he must be presumed to exist - if only for folklorists; and I speak of him as a male deity because I see him so represented in pictures and carvings.

In the Introduction to his charming Tales of Old Japan, Mr. Mitford wrote in 1871:

'The books which have been written of late years about Japan have either been compiled from official records, or have contained the sketchy impressions of passing travellers. Of the inner life of the Japanese the world at large knows but little: their religion, their superstitions, their ways of thought, the hidden springs by which they move - all these are as yet mysteries.'

'Do not fail to write down your first impressions as soon as possible,' said a kind English professor [Basil Hall Chamberlain: PREPARATOR'S NOTE] whom I had the pleasure of meeting soon after my arrival in Japan: 'they are evanescent, you know; they will never come to you again, once they have faded out; and yet of all the strange sensations you may receive in this country you will feel none so charming as these.' I am trying now to reproduce them from the hasty notes of the time, and find that they were even more fugitive than charming; something has evaporated from all my recollections of

1 I do not think this explanation is correct; but it is interesting, as the first which I obtained upon the subject. Properly speaking, Buddhist worshippers should not clap their hands, but only rub them softly together. Shinto worshippers always clap their hands four times.

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