VIII. A GLIMPSE OF TENDENCIES

I

The foreign concession of an open port offers a striking contrast to its far-Eastern environment. In the well-ordered ugliness of its streets one finds suggestions of places not on this side of the world, - just as though fragments of the Occident had been magically brought oversea: bits of Liverpool, of Marseilles, of New York, of New Orleans, and bits also of tropical towns in colonies twelve or fifteen thousand miles away. The mercantile buildings - immense by comparison with the low light Japanese shops - seem to utter the menace of financial power. The dwellings, of every conceivable design - from that of an Indian bungalow to that of an English or French country-manor, with turrets and bow-windows - are surrounded by commonplace gardens of clipped shrubbery; the white roadways are solid and level as tables, and bordered with boxed-up trees. Nearly all things conventional in England or America have been domiciled in these districts. You see church-steeples and factory-chimneys and telegraph-poles and street-lamps. You see warehouses of imported brick with iron shutters, and shop fronts with plate-glass windows, and sidewalks, and cast-iron railings. There are morning and evening and weekly newspapers; clubs and reading-rooms and bowling alleys; billiard halls and barrooms; schools and bethels. There are electric-light and telephone companies; hospitals, courts, jails, and a foreign police. There are foreign lawyers, doctors, and druggists; foreign grocers, confectioners, bakers, dairymen; foreign dress-makers and tailors; foreign school-teachers and music-teachers. There is a town-hall, for municipal business and public meetings of all kinds, - likewise for amateur theatricals or lectures and concerts; and very rarely some dramatic company, on a tour of the world, halts there awhile to make men laugh and women cry like they used to do at home. There are cricket-grounds, racecourses, public parks, - or, as we should call them in England, "squares," - yachting associations, athletic societies, and swimming baths. Among the familiar noises are the endless tinkling of piano-practice, the crashing of a town-band, and an occasional wheezing of accordions: in fact, one misses only the organ-grinder. The population is English, French, German, American, Danish, Swedish, Swiss, Russian, with a thin sprinkling of Italians and Levantines. I had almost forgotten the Chinese. They are present in multitude, and have a little corner of the district to themselves. But the dominant element is English and American, the English being in the majority. All the faults and some of the finer qualities of the masterful races can be studied here to better advantage than beyond seas, - because everybody knows all about everybody else in communities so small, - mere oases of Occidental life in the vast unknown of the Far East. Ugly stories may be heard which are not worth writing about; also stories of nobility and generosity - about good brave things done by men who pretend to be selfish, and wear conventional masks to hide what is best in them from public knowledge.

But the domains of the foreigner do not stretch beyond the distance of an easy walk, and may shrink back again into nothing before many years - for reasons I shall presently dwell upon. His settlements developed precociously, - almost like "mushroom cities" in the great American West, - and reached the apparent limit of their development soon after solidifying.

About and beyond the concession, the "native town" - the real Japanese city - stretches away into regions imperfectly known. To the average settler this native town remains a world of mysteries; he may not think it worth his while to enter it for ten years at a time. It has no interest for him, as he is not a student of native customs, but simply a man of business; and he has no time to think how queer it all is. Merely to cross the concession line is almost the same thing as to cross the Pacific Ocean, - which is much less wide than the difference between the races. Enter alone into the interminable narrow maze of Japanese streets, and the dogs will bark at you, and the children stare at you as if you were the only foreigner they ever saw. Perhaps they will even call after you "Ijin," "Tojin," or "Ke-tojin," - the last of which signifies "hairy foreigner," and is not intended as a compliment.

II