Japan

There have been seven Delhis; and it required no little courage to establish a new one - the Imperial capital - actually within sight of most of them; but the courage was forthcoming. Originally the position was to be to the north of the present city, where the Coronation Durbar spread its canvas, but Raisina was found to be healthier, and it is there, some five miles to the south-west, that the new palaces are rising from the rock. Fatehpur-Sikri is the only city with which the New Delhi can be compared; but not Akbar himself could devise it on a nobler scale.

I left Kyoto for Yokohama on Wednesday night, March 17, 1920, at eleven, and Thursday, March 18, 1920, thus remains with me as a red-letter day, for it was then, at about half-past seven in the morning, that, lifting the blind of my sleeping compartment, I saw - almost within reach, as it seemed, dazzlingly white under its snow against a clear blue sky, with the sun flooding it with glory - Fujiyama. I was to see it again several times - for I went to Myanoshita for that purpose - but never again so startlingly and wonderfully as this.

We have our cinema theatres in England in some abundance, but the cinema is not yet in the blood here as in America. In America picture-palaces are palaces indeed - with gold and marble, and mural decorations, built to seat thousands - and every newspaper has its cinema page, where the activities of the movie stars in their courses are chronicled every morning. Moreover, America is the home of the industry; and rightly so, for it has, I should say, been abundantly proved that Americans are the only people who really understand both cinema acting and cinema production.

Looking back on it all I realise that America never struck me as a new country, although its inhabitants often seemed to be a new people. The cities are more mature than the citizens. New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington - all have an air of permanence and age. The buildings, even the most fantastic, suggest indigenousness, or at least stability; nor would the presence of more ancient structures increase this effect.

As we were leaving the Kutb after a late afternoon visit, my host and I were hailed excitedly by an elderly man whose speech was incomprehensible, but whose gestures indicated plainly enough that there was something important up the hill. The line of least resistance being the natural one in India, we allowed him to guide us, and came after a few minutes, among the ruins of the citadel of Lal Kot, to one of those deep wells gained by long flights of steps whither the ladies of the palaces used to resort in the hottest weather.

Yokohama is industrial and dirty everywhere but on the drive beside the harbour, and on the Bluff, where the rich foreigners live. I visited one house on this pleasant eminence and there was nothing in it to suggest that it was in Japan any more than in, say, Cheltenham. The form was English, the furniture was English, the pictures and books were English; photographs of school and college cricket elevens gave it the final home touch. Only in the garden were there exotic indications. The English certainly have the knack of carrying their atmosphere with them.

Perhaps it is one of the travellers' illusions (and we are very susceptible to them), but I have the impression that American men are more alike than the English are. It may be because there are fewer idiosyncrasies in male attire, for in America every one wears the same kind of hat; but I think not. In spite of the mixed origin of most Americans, a national type of face has been evolved to which they seem satisfied almost universally to pay allegiance.

The returning traveller from India is besieged by questioners who want to know all about the most famous of the jugglers' performances. In this trick the magician flings a rope into the air, retaining one end in his hand, and his boy climbs up it and disappears. I did not see it.

I left Japan, as I have said, just before the cherry-blossom festivities began, but I was able to see a number of the dances - which never change but are passed with exactitude, step for step, gesture for gesture and expression for expression, from one geisha to another - as performed by a child who was being educated for the profession. Although so young she knew accurately upwards of sixty dances, and the pick of these she executed for a few spectators, in a little fragile paper-walled house outside Yokohama, while her adoring aunt played the wistful repetitive accompaniments.

I can best indicate, without the mechanical assistance of dates, the time of my sojourn in New York by saying that, during those few weeks, Woodrow Wilson's successor was being sought, the possibility of the repeal of the Prohibition Act was a matter of excited interest, and "Babe" Ruth was the national hero.

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