warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/iovannet/public_html/explorion/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Japan

My first experience of Japanese scenery of any wildness was gained while shooting the rapids of the Katsuragava, an exciting voyage among boulders in a shallow and often very turbulent stream in a steep and craggy valley a few miles from Kyoto. Previous to this expedition I had seen, from the train, only the trim rice fields, - each a tiny parallelogram with its irrigation channels as a boundary, so carefully tended that there is not a weed in the whole country. Japan is cut up into these absurd little squares, of which twenty and more would go into an ordinary English field.

The journey from San Francisco to Chicago, once the fruit country is passed, is drearily tedious, and I was never so tired of a train.

I was fortunate in the city over which William Penn, in giant effigy, keeps watch and ward, in having as guide, philosopher and friend Mr. A. Edward Newton, the Johnsonian, and the author of one of the best examples of "amateur" literature that I know - "The Amenities of Book- Collecting." Mr. Newton took me everywhere, even to the little seventeenth-century Swedish church, which architecturally may be described as the antipodes of Philadelphia's newer glory, the Curtis Building, where editors are lodged like kings and can be attained to (if at all) only through marble halls.

One of my best Indian days was that on which Colonel Sir Umar Hayat Khan took us out a-hawking. Sir Umar is himself something of a hawk - an impressive figure in his great turban with long streamers, his keen aquiline features and blackest of hair. All sport comes naturally to him, whether hunting or shooting, pig-sticking, coursing or falconry; and the Great War found him with a sportsman's eagerness to rush into the fray, where he distinguished himself notably.

In spite of Kyoto's eight hundred temples I could not get any but a materialistic concept of its inhabitants; and elsewhere this impression was emphasised. A stranger cannot, of course, know; he can but record his feelings, without claiming any authority for them. But I am sure I was never in a country where I perceived fewer indications of any spiritual life. Every one is busy; every one seems to be happy or at any rate not discontented; every one chatters and laughs and is, one feels, a fatalist. Sufficient unto the day!

In Chicago the weather was wet and cold, and it was not until after I had left that I learned of the presence there of certain literary collections which I may now perhaps never see. But I spent much time in the Museum, where there is one of the finest Hobbemas in the world, and where two such different creative artists as Claude Monet and Josiah Wedgwood are especially honoured.

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.

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.

Syndicate content