Percival Lowell

We seemed bound that day to meet freaks in fishing-tackle. The next one to turn up was a kind of crinoline. This strange thing confronted us as we disembarked at Anamidzu. Anamidzu was the last port in the inland sea. After touching here the steamer passed out into the sea of Japan and tied up for the night at a small port on the eastern side of the nose of the peninsula.

I was roused from my mid-Noto reverie by tidings that our boat was ready and waiting just below the bridge. This was not the steamer which had long since gone on its way, but a small boat of the country we had succeeded in chartering for the return voyage. The good inn-folk, who had helped in the hiring, hospitably came down to the landing to see us off.

On the morrow morning we took the road in kuruma, the road proper, as Yejiro called it; for it was the main bond between Noto and the rest of Japan. This was the nearest approach it had to a proper name, a circumstance which showed it not to be of the first importance. For in Japan, all the old arteries of travel had distinctive names, the Nakasendo or Mid-Mountain road, the Tokaido or Eastern Sea road, and so forth. Like certain other country relations, their importance was due to their city connections, not to their own local magnitude.

There now befell us a sad piece of experience, the result of misplaced confidence in the guidebook. Ours was the faith a simple public pins upon print. Le journal, c'est un jeune homme, as Balzac said, and even the best of guidebooks, as this one really was, may turn out - a cover to many shortcomings.

I was waked by good news. The porters had, to a certain extent, come round. If we would halve their burdens by doubling their number, they would make an attempt on the pass, or, rather, they would go on as far as they could. This was a great advance. To be already moving implies a momentum of the mind which carries a man farther than he means. I acquiesced at once. The recruits consisted of the master of the house - his father, the officiator at family prayers, had retired from the cares of this world - and a peasant of the neighborhood.

by Percivel Lowell

To Basil Hall Chamberlain, Esq.
From you, my dear Basil, the confidant of my hopes toward Noto, I
know I may look for sympathy now that my advances have met with such
happy issue, however incomplete be my account. And so I ask you to
be my best man in the matter before the world.

Ever yours,
Percival Lowell.

We made for the main hut, a low, mouse-colored shanty fast asleep and deep drifted in snow. The advance porter summoned the place, and the summons drew to what did for door a man as mouselike as his mansion. He had about him a subdued, monkish demeanor that only partially hid an alertness within, - a secular monk befitting the spot. He showed himself a kindly body, and after he had helped the porters off with their packs, led the way into the room in which he and his mate hibernated. It was a room very much in the rough; boards for walls, for ceiling, for floor, its only furnishing a fire.

The fancy took me to go to Noto.

It seemed a strange fancy to my friends.

Yet I make no apology for it; for it was a case of love at first sight.

When Yejiro pushed the shoji and the amado (night shutters) apart in the morning, he disclosed a bank of snow four feet deep; not a snowfall over night, but the relic of the winter. I found myself in a snow grotto beyond which nothing was visible. He then imparted to me the cheerful news that the watchman had changed his mind, and now refused to set out with us. It was too late in the day to start, the man said, which, in view of his having informed us only the night before that the snow would not be fit to travel on till this very hour, was scarcely logical.

It was on the day but one before the festival of the fifth moon that we set out, or, in English, the third of May; and those emblems of good luck, the festival fishes, were already swimming in the air above the house eaves, as we scurried through the streets in jinrikisha toward the Uyeno railway station. We had been a little behindhand in starting, but by extra exertions on the part of the runners we succeeded in reaching the station just in time to be shut out by the gatekeeper.

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