Chapter Four. From the Diary of an English Teacher


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.

The Normal School is a much larger building occupying the opposite angle of the square. It is also much handsomer, is painted snowy white, and has a little cupola upon its summit. There are only about one hundred and fifty students in the Shihan-Gakko, but they are boarders.

Between these two schools are other educational buildings, which I shall learn more about later.

It is my first day at the schools. Nishida Sentaro, the Japanese teacher of English, has taken me through the buildings, introduced me to the Directors, and to all my future colleagues, given me all necessary instructions about hours and about textbooks, and furnished my desk with all things necessary. Before teaching begins, however, I must be introduced to the Governor of the Province, Koteda Yasusada, with whom my contract has been made, through the medium of his secretary. So Nishida leads the way to the Kencho, or Prefectural office, situated in another foreign-looking edifice across the street.

We enter it, ascend a wide stairway, and enter a spacious .room carpeted in European fashion - a room with bay windows and cushioned chairs. One person is seated at a small round table, and about him are standing half a dozen others: all are in full Japanese costume, ceremonial costume - splendid silken hakama, or Chinese trousers, silken robes, silken haori or overdress, marked with their mon or family crests: rich and dignified attire which makes me ashamed of my commonplace Western garb. These are officials of the Kencho, and teachers: the person seated is the Governor. He rises to greet me, gives me the hand-grasp of a giant: and as I look into his eyes, I feel I shall love that man to the day of my death. A face fresh and frank as a boy's, expressing much placid force and large-hearted kindness - all the calm of a Buddha. Beside him, the other officials look very small: indeed the first impression of him is that of a man of another race. While I am wondering whether the old Japanese heroes were cast in a similar mould, he signs to me to take a seat, and questions my guide in a mellow basso. There is a charm in the fluent depth of the voice pleasantly confirming the idea suggested by the face. An attendant brings tea.

'The Governor asks,' interprets Nishida, 'if you know the old history of Izumo.'

I reply that I have read the Kojiki, translated by Professor Chamberlain, and have therefore some knowledge of the story of Japan's most ancient province. Some converse in Japanese follows. Nishida tells the Governor that I came to Japan to study the ancient religion and customs, and that I am particularly interested in Shinto and the traditions of Izumo. The Governor suggests that I make visits to the celebrated shrines of Kitzuki, Yaegaki, and Kumano, and then asks:

'Does he know the tradition of the origin of the clapping of hands before a Shinto shrine?'

I reply in the negative; and the Governor says the tradition is given in a commentary upon the Kojiki.

'It is in the thirty-second section of the fourteenth volume, where it is written that Ya-he-Koto-Shiro-nushi-no-Kami clapped his hands.'

I thank the Governor for his kind suggestions and his citation. After a brief silence I am graciously dismissed with another genuine hand-grasp; and we return to the school.


I have been teaching for three hours in the Middle School, and teaching Japanese boys turns out to be a much more agreeable task than I had imagined. Each class has been so well prepared for me beforehand by Nishida that my utter ignorance of Japanese makes no difficulty in regard to teaching: moreover, although the lads cannot understand my words always when I speak, they can understand whatever I write upon the blackboard with chalk. Most of them have already been studying English from childhood, with Japanese teachers. All are wonderfully docile' and patient. According to old custom, when the teacher enters, the whole class rises and bows to him. He returns the bow, and calls the roll.

Nishida is only too kind. He helps me in every way he possibly can, and is constantly regretting that he cannot help me more. There are, of course, some difficulties to overcome. For instance, it will take me a very, very long time to learn the names of the boys - most of which names I cannot even pronounce, with the class-roll before me. And although the names of the different classes have been painted upon the doors of their respective rooms in English letters, for the benefit of the foreign teacher, it will take me some weeks at least to become quite familiar with them. For the time being Nishida always guides me to the rooms. He also shows me the way, through long corridors, to the Normal School, and introduces me to the teacher Nakayama who is to act there as my guide.

I have been engaged to teach only four times a week at the Normal School; but I am furnished there also with a handsome desk in the teachers' apartment, and am made to feel at home almost immediately. Nakayama shows me everything of interest in the building before introducing me to my future pupils. The introduction is pleasant and novel as a school experience. I am conducted along a corridor, and ushered into a large luminous whitewashed room full of young men in dark blue military uniform. Each sits at a very small desk, sup-ported by a single leg, with three feet. At the end of the room is a platform with a high desk and a chair for the teacher. As I take my place at the desk, a voice rings out in English: 'Stand up!' And all rise with a springy movement as if moved by machinery. 'Bow down!' the same voice again commands - the voice of a young student wearing a captain's stripes upon his sleeve; and all salute me. I bow in return; we take our seats; and the lesson begins.

All teachers at the Normal School are saluted in the same military fashion before each class-hour - only the command is given in Japanese. For my sake only, it is given in English.


September 22, 1890.

The Normal School is a State institution. Students are admitted upon examination and production of testimony as to good character; but the number is, of course, limited. The young men pay no fees, no boarding money, nothing even for books, college-outfits, or wearing apparel. They are lodged, clothed, fed, and educated by the State; but they are required in return, after their graduation, to serve the State as teachers for the space of five years. Admission, however, by no means assures graduation. There are three or four examinations each year; and the students who fail to obtain a certain high average of examination marks must leave the school, however exemplary their conduct or earnest their study. No leniency can be shown where the educational needs of the State are concerned, and these call for natural ability and a high standard of its proof.

The discipline is military and severe. Indeed, it is so thorough that the graduate of a Normal School is exempted by military law from more than a year's service in the army: he leaves college a trained soldier. Deportment is also a requisite: special marks are given for it; and however gawky a freshman may prove at the time of his admission, he cannot remain so. A spirit of manliness is cultivated, which excludes roughness but develops self-reliance and self-control. The student is required, when speaking, to look his teacher in the face, and to utter his words not only distinctly, but sonorously. Demeanour in class is partly enforced by the class-room fittings themselves. The tiny tables are too narrow to allow of being used as supports for the elbows; the seats have no backs against which to lean, and the student must hold himself rigidly erect as he studies. He must also keep himself faultlessly neat and clean. Whenever and wherever he encounters one of his teachers he must halt, bring his feet together, draw himself erect, and give the military salute. And this is done with a swift grace difficult to describe.

The demeanour of a class during study hours is if anything too faultless. Never a whisper is heard; never is a head raised from the book without permission. But when the teacher addresses a student by name, the youth rises instantly, and replies in a tone of such vigour as would seem to unaccustomed ears almost startling by contrast with the stillness and self-repression of the others.

The female department of the Normal School, where about fifty young women are being trained as teachers, is a separate two-story quadrangle of buildings, large, airy, and so situated, together with its gardens, as to be totally isolated from all other buildings and invisible from the street. The girls are not only taught European science by the most advanced methods, but are trained as well in Japanese arts - the arts of embroidery, of decoration, of painting, and of arranging flowers. European drawing is also taught, and beautifully taught, not only here, but in all the schools. It is taught, however, in combination with Japanese methods; and the results of this blending may certainly be expected to have some charming influence upon future art-production. The average capacity of the Japanese student in drawing is, I think, at least fifty per cent, higher than that of European students. The soul of the race is essentially artistic; and the extremely difficult art of learning to write the Chinese characters, in which all are trained from early childhood, has already disciplined the hand and the eye to a marvellous degree - a degree undreamed of in the Occident - long before the drawing-master begins his lessons of perspective.

Attached to the great Normal School, and connected by a corridor with the Jinjo Chugakko likewise, is a large elementary school for little boys and girls: its teachers are male and female students of the graduating classes, who are thus practically trained for their profession before entering the service of the State. Nothing could be more interesting as an educational spectacle to any sympathetic foreigner than some of this elementary teaching. In the first room which I visit a class of very little girls and boys - some as quaintly pretty as their own dolls - are bending at their desks over sheets of coal-black paper which you would think they were trying to make still blacker by energetic use of writing-brushes and what we call Indian-ink. They are really learning to write Chinese and Japanese characters, stroke by stroke. Until one stroke has been well learned, they are not suffered to attempt another - much less a combination. Long before the first lesson is thoroughly mastered, the white paper has become all evenly black under the multitude of tyro brush-strokes. But the same sheet is still used; for the wet ink makes a yet blacker mark upon the dry, so that it can easily be seen.

In a room adjoining, I see another child-class learning to use scissors - Japanese scissors, which, being formed in one piece, shaped something like the letter U, are much less easy to manage than ours. The little folk are being taught to cut out patterns, and shapes of special objects or symbols to be studied. Flower-forms are the most ordinary patterns; sometimes certain ideographs are given as subjects.

And in another room a third small class is learning to sing; the teacher writing the music notes (do, re, mi) with chalk upon a blackboard, and accompanying the song with an accordion. The little ones have learned the Japanese national anthem (Kimi ga yo wa) and two native songs set to Scotch airs - one of which calls back to me, even in this remote corner of the Orient, many a charming memory: Auld Lang Syne.

No uniform is worn in this elementary school: all are in Japanese dress - the boys in dark blue kimono, the little girls in robes of all tints, radiant as butterflies. But in addition to their robes, the girls wear hakama, [1] and these are of a vivid, warm sky-blue.

Between the hours of teaching, ten minutes are allowed for play or rest. The little boys play at Demon-Shadows or at blind-man's-buff or at some other funny game: they laugh, leap, shout, race, and wrestle, but, unlike European children, never quarrel or fight. As for the little girls, they get by themselves, and either play at hand-ball, or form into circles to play at some round game, accompanied by song. Indescribably soft and sweet the chorus of those little voices in the round:

Kango-kango sho-ya, Naka yoni sho-ya, Don-don to kunde Jizo-San no midzu wo Matsuba no midzu irete, Makkuri kadso. [2]

I notice that the young men, as well as the young women, who teach these little folk, are extremely tender to their charges. A child whose kimono is out of order, or dirtied by play, is taken aside and brushed and arranged as carefully as by an elder brother.

Besides being trained for their future profession by teaching the children of the elementary school, the girl students of the Shihan-Gakko are also trained to teach in the neighbouring kindergarten. A delightful kindergarten it is, with big cheerful sunny rooms, where stocks of the most ingenious educational toys are piled upon shelves for daily use.

Since the above was written I have had two years' experience as a teacher in various large Japanese schools; and I have never had personal knowledge of any serious quarrel between students, and have never even heard of a fight among my pupils. And I have taught some eight hundred boys and young men.


October 1 1890. Nevertheless I am destined to see little of the Normal School. Strictly speaking, I do not belong to its staff: my services being only lent by the Middle School, to which I give most of my time. I see the Normal School students in their class-rooms only, for they are not allowed to go out to visit their teachers' homes in the town. So I can never hope to become as familiar with them as with the students of the Chugakko, who are beginning to call me 'Teacher' instead of 'Sir,' and to treat me as a sort of elder brother. (I objected to the word 'master,' for in Japan the teacher has no need of being masterful.) And I feel less at home in the large, bright, comfortable apartments of the Normal School teachers than in our dingy, chilly teachers' room at the Chugakko, where my desk is next to that of Nishida.

On the walls there are maps, crowded with Japanese ideographs; a few large charts representing zoological facts in the light of evolutional science; and an immense frame filled with little black lacquered wooden tablets, so neatly fitted together that the entire surface is uniform as that of a blackboard. On these are written, or rather painted, in white, names of teachers, subjects, classes, and order of teaching hours; and by the ingenious tablet arrangement any change of hours can be represented by simply changing the places of the tablets. As all this is written in Chinese and Japanese characters, it remains to me a mystery, except in so far as the general plan and purpose are concerned. I have learned only to recognize the letters of my own name, and the simpler form of numerals.

On every teacher's desk there is a small hibachi of glazed blue-and-white ware, containing a few lumps of glowing charcoal in a bed of ashes. During the brief intervals between classes each teacher smokes his tiny Japanese pipe of brass, iron, or silver. The hibachi and a cup of hot tea are our consolations for the fatigues of the class-room.

Nishida and one or two other teachers know a good deal of English, and we chat together sometimes between classes. But more often no one speaks. All are tired after the teaching hour, and prefer to smoke in silence. At such times the only sounds within the room are the ticking of the clock, and the sharp clang of the little pipes being rapped upon the edges of the hibachi to empty out the ashes.


October 15, 1890. To-day I witnessed the annual athletic contests (undo- kwai) of all the schools in Shimane Ken. These games were celebrated in the broad castle grounds of Ninomaru. Yesterday a circular race-track had been staked off, hurdles erected for leaping, thousands of wooden seats prepared for invited or privileged spectators, and a grand lodge built for the Governor, all before sunset. The place looked like a vast circus, with its tiers of plank seats rising one above the other, and the Governor's lodge magnificent with wreaths and flags. School children from all the villages and towns within twenty-five miles had arrived in surprising multitude. Nearly six thousand boys and girls were entered to take part in the contests. Their parents and relatives and teachers made an imposing assembly upon the benches and within the gates. And on the ramparts overlooking the huge inclosure a much larger crowd had gathered, representing perhaps one-third of the population of the city.

The signal to begin or to end a contest was a pistol-shot. Four different kinds of games were performed in different parts of the grounds at the same time, as there was room enough for an army; and prizes were awarded to the winners of each contest by the hand of the Governor himself.

There were races between the best runners in each class of the different schools; and the best runner of all proved to be Sakane, of our own fifth class, who came in first by nearly forty yards without seeming even to make an effort. He is our champion athlete, and as good as he is strong - so that it made me very happy to see him with his arms full of prize books. He won also a fencing contest decided by the breaking of a little earthenware saucer tied to the left arm of each combatant. And he also won a leaping match between our older boys.

But many hundreds of other winners there were too, and many hundreds of prizes were given away. There were races in which the runners were tied together in pairs, the left leg of one to the right leg of the other. There were equally funny races, the winning of which depended on the runner's ability not only to run, but to crawl, to climb, to vault, and to jump alternately. There were races also for the little girls - pretty as butterflies they seemed in their sky-blue hakama and many coloured robes - races in which the contestants had each to pick up as they ran three balls of three different colours out of a number scattered over the turf. Besides this, the little girls had what is called a flag-race, and a contest with battledores and shuttlecocks.

Then came the tug-of-war. A magnificent tug-of-war, too - one hundred students at one end of a rope, and another hundred at the other. But the most wonderful spectacles of the day were the dumb-bell exercises. Six thousand boys and girls, massed in ranks about five hundred deep; six thousand pairs of arms rising and falling exactly together; six thousand pairs of sandalled feet advancing or retreating together, at the signal of the masters of gymnastics, directing all from the tops of various little wooden towers; six thousand voices chanting at once the 'one, two, three,' of the dumb-bell drill: 'Ichi, ni, - san, shi, - go, roku, - shichi, hachi.'

Last came the curious game called 'Taking the Castle.' Two models of Japanese towers, about fifteen feet high, made with paper stretched over a framework of bamboo, were set up, one at each end of the field. Inside the castles an inflammable liquid had been placed in open vessels, so that if the vessels were overturned the whole fabric would take fire. The boys, divided into two parties, bombarded the castles with wooden balls, which passed easily through the paper walls; and in a short time both models were making a glorious blaze. Of course the party whose castle was the first to blaze lost the game.

The games began at eight o'clock in the morning, and at five in the evening came to an end. Then at a signal fully ten thousand voices pealed out the superb national anthem, 'Kimi ga yo, and concluded it with three cheers for their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

The Japanese do not shout or roar as we do when we cheer. They chant. Each long cry is like the opening tone of an immense musical chorus: A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a..a!


It is no small surprise to observe how botany, geology, and other sciences are daily taught even in this remotest part of Old Japan. Plant physiology and the nature of vegetable tissues are studied under excellent microscopes, and in their relations to chemistry; and at regular intervals the instructor leads his classes into the country to illustrate the lessons of the term by examples taken from the flora of their native place. Agriculture, taught by a graduate of the famous Agricultural School at Sapporo, is practically illustrated upon farms purchased and maintained by the schools for purely educational ends. Each series of lessons in geology is supplemented by visits to the mountains about the lake, or to the tremendous cliffs of the coast, where the students are taught to familiarize themselves with forms of stratification and the visible history of rocks. The basin of the lake, and the country about Matsue, is physiographically studied, after the plans of instruction laid down in Huxley's excellent manual. Natural History, too, is taught according to the latest and best methods, and with the help of the microscope. The results of such teaching are sometimes surprising. I know of one student, a lad of only sixteen, who voluntarily collected and classified more than two hundred varieties of marine plants for a Tokyo professor. Another, a youth of seventeen, wrote down for me in my notebook, without a work of reference at hand, and, as I afterwards discovered, almost without an omission or error, a scientific list of all the butterflies to be found in the neighbourhood of the city.


Through the Minister of Public Instruction, His Imperial Majesty has sent to all the great public schools of the Empire a letter bearing date of the thirteenth day of the tenth month of the twenty-third year of Meiji. And the students and teachers of the various schools assemble to hear the reading of the Imperial Words on Education.

At eight o'clock we of the Middle School are all waiting in our own assembly hall for the coming of the Governor, who will read the Emperor's letter in the various schools.

We wait but a little while. Then the Governor comes with all the officers of the Kencho and the chief men of the city. We rise to salute him: then the national anthem is sung.

Then the Governor, ascending the platform, produces the Imperial Missive - a scroll of Chinese manuscript sheathed in silk. He withdraws it slowly from its woven envelope, lifts it reverentially to his forehead, unrolls it, lifts it again to his forehead, and after a moment's dignified pause begins in that clear deep voice of his to read the melodious syllables after the ancient way, which is like a chant:

'CHO-KU-G U. Chin omommiru ni waga koso koso kuni wo....

'We consider that the Founder of Our Empire and the ancestors of Our Imperial House placed the foundation of the country on a grand and permanent basis, and established their authority on the principles of profound humanity and benevolence.

'That Our subjects have throughout ages deserved well of the State by their loyalty and piety and by their harmonious co-operation is in accordance with the essential character of Our nation; and on these very same principles Our education has been founded.

'You, Our subjects, be therefore filial to your parents; be affectionate to your brothers; be harmonious as husbands and wives; and be faithful to your friends; conduct yourselves with propriety and carefulness; extend generosity and benevolence towards your neighbours; attend to your studies and follow your pursuits; cultivate your intellects and elevate your morals; advance public benefits and promote social interests; be always found in the good observance of the laws and constitution of the land; display your personal courage and public spirit for the sake of the country whenever required; and thus support the Imperial prerogative, which is coexistent with the Heavens and the Earth.

'Such conduct on your part will not only strengthen the character of Our good and loyal subjects, but conduce also to the maintenance of the fame of your worthy forefathers.

'This is the instruction bequeathed by Our ancestors and to be followed by Our subjects; for it is the truth which has guided and guides them in their own affairs and in their dealings towards aliens.

'We hope, therefore, We and Our subjects will regard these sacred precepts with one and the same heart in order to attain the same ends.' [3]

Then the Governor and the Head-master speak a few words - dwelling upon the full significance of His Imperial Majesty's august commands, and exhorting all to remember and to obey them to the uttermost.

After which the students have a holiday, to enable them the better to recollect what they have heard.


All teaching in the modern Japanese system of education is conducted with the utmost kindness and gentleness. The teacher is a teacher only: he is not, in the English sense of mastery, a master. He stands to his pupils in the relation of an elder brother. He never tries to impose his will upon them: he never scolds, he seldom criticizes, he scarcely ever punishes. No Japanese teacher ever strikes a pupil: such an act would cost him his post at once. He never loses his temper: to do so would disgrace him in the eyes of his boys and in the judgment of his colleagues. Practically speaking, there is no punishment in Japanese schools. Sometimes very mischievous lads are kept in the schoolhouse during recreation time; yet even this light penalty is not inflicted directly by the teacher, but by the director of the school on complaint of the teacher. The purpose in such cases is not to inflict pain by deprivation of enjoyment, but to give public illustration of a fault; and in the great majority of instances, consciousness of the fault thus brought home to a lad before his comrades is quite enough to prevent its repetition. No such cruel punition as that of forcing a dull pupil to learn an additional task, or of sentencing him to strain his eyes copying four or five hundred lines, is ever dreamed of. Nor would such forms of punishment, in the present state of things, be long tolerated by the pupils themselves. The general policy of the educational authorities everywhere throughout the empire is to get rid of students who cannot be perfectly well managed without punishment; and expulsions, nevertheless, are rare.

I often see a pretty spectacle on my way home from the school, when I take the short cut through the castle grounds. A class of about thirty little boys, in kimono and sandals, bareheaded, being taught to march and to sing by a handsome young teacher, also in Japanese dress. While they sing, they are drawn up in line; and keep time with their little bare feet. The teacher has a pleasant high clear tenor: he stands at one end of the rank and sings a single line of the song. Then all the children sing it after him. Then he sings a second line, and they repeat it. If any mistakes are made, they have to sing the verse again.

It is the Song of Kusunoki Masashige, noblest of Japanese heroes and patriots.


I have said that severity on the part of teachers would scarcely be tolerated by the students themselves - a fact which may sound strange to English or American ears. Tom Brown's school does not exist in Japan; the ordinary public school much more resembles the ideal Italian institution so charmingly painted for us in the Cuore of De Amicis. Japanese students furthermore claim and enjoy an independence contrary to all Occidental ideas of disciplinary necessity. In the Occident the master expels the pupil. In Japan it happens quite as often that the pupil expels the master. Each public school is an earnest, spirited little republic, to which director and teachers stand only in the relation of president and cabinet. They are indeed appointed by the prefectural government upon recommendation by the Educational Bureau at the capital; but in actual practice they maintain their positions by virtue of their capacity and personal character as estimated by their students, and are likely to be deposed by a revolutionary movement whenever found wanting. It has been alleged that the students frequently abuse their power. But this allegation has been made by European residents, strongly prejudiced in favour of masterful English ways of discipline. (I recollect that an English Yokohama paper, in this connection, advocated the introduction of the birch.) My own observations have convinced me, as larger experience has convinced some others, that in most instances of pupils rebelling against a teacher, reason is upon their side. They will rarely insult a teacher whom they dislike, or cause any disturbance in his class: they will simply refuse to attend school until he be removed. Personal feeling may often be a secondary, but it is seldom, so far as I have been able to learn, the primary cause for such a demand. A teacher whose manners are unsympathetic, or even positively disagreeable, will be nevertheless obeyed and revered while his students remain persuaded of his capacity as a teacher, and his sense of justice; and they are as keen to discern ability as they are to detect partiality. And, on the other hand, an amiable disposition alone will never atone with them either for want of knowledge or for want of skill to impart it. I knew one case, in a neighbouring public school, of a demand by the students for the removal of their professor of chemistry. In making their complaint, they frankly declared: 'We like him. He is kind to all of us; he does the best he can. But he does not know enough to teach us as we wish to be taught. lie cannot answer our questions. He cannot explain the experiments which he shows us. Our former teacher could do all these things. We must have another teacher.' Investigation proved that the lads were quite right. The young teacher had graduated at the university; he had come well recommended: but he had no thorough knowledge of the science which he undertook to impart, and no experience as a teacher. The instructor's success in Japan is not guaranteed by a degree, but by his practical knowledge and his capacity to communicate it simply and thoroughly.


November 3, 1890 To-day is the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor. It is a public holiday throughout Japan; and there will be no teaching this morning. But at eight o'clock all the students and instructors enter the great assembly hall of the Jinjo Chugakko to honour the anniversary of His Majesty's august birth.

On the platform of the assembly hall a table, covered with dark silk, has been placed; and upon this table the portraits of Their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and the Empress of Japan, stand side by side upright, framed in gold. The alcove above the platform has been decorated with flags and wreaths.

Presently the Governor enters, looking like a French general in his gold-embroidered uniform of office, and followed by the Mayor of the city, the Chief Military Officer, the Chief of Police, and all the officials of the provincial government. These take their places in silence to left and right of the plat form. Then the school organ suddenly rolls out the slow, solemn, beautiful national anthem; and all present chant those ancient syllables, made sacred by the reverential love of a century of generations:

Ki-mi ga-a yo-o wa Chi-yo ni-i-i ya-chi-yo ni sa-za-red I-shi-no I-wa o to na-ri-te Ko-ke no Mu-u su-u ma-a-a-de [4]

The anthem ceases. The Governor advances with a slow dignified step from the right side of the apartment to the centre of the open space before the platform and the portraits of Their Majesties, turns his face to them, and bows profoundly. Then he takes three steps forward toward the platform, and halts, and bows again. Then he takes three more steps forward, and bows still more profoundly. Then he retires, walking backward six steps, and bows once more. Then he returns to his place.

After this the teachers, by parties of six, perform the same beautiful ceremony. When all have saluted the portrait of His Imperial Majesty, the Governor ascends the platform and makes a few eloquent remarks to the students about their duty to their Emperor, to their country, and to their teachers. Then the anthem is sung again; and all disperse to amuse themselves for the rest of the day.


March 1 1891. The majority of the students of the Jinjo Chugakko are day-scholars only (externes, as we would say in France): they go to school in the morning, take their noon meal at home, and return at one o'clock to attend the brief afternoon classes. All the city students live with their own families; but there are many boys from remote country districts who have no city relatives, and for such the school furnishes boarding-houses, where a wholesome moral discipline is maintained by special masters. They are free, however, if they have sufficient means, to choose another boarding-house (provided it be a respectable one), or to find quarters in some good family; but few adopt either course.

I doubt whether in any other country the cost of education - education of the most excellent and advanced kind - is so little as in Japan. The Izumo student is able to live at a figure so far below the Occidental idea of necessary expenditure that the mere statement of it can scarcely fail to surprise the reader. A sum equal in American money to about twenty dollars supplies him with board and lodging for one year. The whole of his expenses, including school fees, are about seven dollars a month. For his room and three ample meals a day he pays every four weeks only one yen eighty-five sen - not much more than a dollar and a half in American currency. If very, very poor, he will not be obliged to wear a uniform; but nearly all students of the higher classes do wear uniforms, as the cost of a complete uniform, including cap and shoes of leather, is only about three and a half yen for the cheaper quality. Those who do not wear leather shoes, however, are required, while in the school, to exchange their noisy wooden geta for zori or light straw sandals.


But the mental education so admirably imparted in an ordinary middle school is not, after all, so cheaply acquired by the student as might be imagined from the cost of living and the low rate of school fees. For Nature exacts a heavier school fee, and rigidly collects her debt - in human life.

To understand why, one should remember that the modern knowledge which the modern Izumo student must acquire upon a diet of boiled rice and bean-curd was discovered, developed, and synthetised by minds strengthened upon a costly diet of flesh. National underfeeding offers the most cruel problem which the educators of Japan must solve in order that she may become fully able to assimilate the civilization we have thrust upon her. As Herbert Spencer has pointed out, the degree of human energy, physical or intellectual, must depend upon the nutritiveness of food; and history shows that the well-fed races have been the energetic and the dominant. Perhaps mind will rule in the future of nations; but mind is a mode of force, and must be fed - through the stomach. The thoughts that have shaken the world were never framed upon bread and water: they were created by beefsteak and mutton-chops, by ham and eggs, by pork and puddings, and were stimulated by generous wines, strong ales, and strong coffee. And science also teaches us that the growing child or youth requires an even more nutritious diet than the adult; and that the student especially needs strong nourishment to repair the physical waste involved by brain-exertion.

And what is the waste entailed upon the Japanese schoolboy's system by study? It is certainly greater than that which the system of the European or American student must suffer at the same period of life. Seven years of study are required to give the Japanese youth merely the necessary knowledge of his own triple system of ideographs - or, in less accurate but plainer speech, the enormous alphabet of his native literature. That literature, also, he must study, and the art of two forms of his language - the written and the spoken: likewise, of course, he must learn native history and native morals. Besides these Oriental studies, his course includes foreign history, geography, arithmetic, astronomy, physics, geometry, natural history, agriculture, chemistry, drawing, and mathematics. Worst of all, he must learn English - a language of which the difficulty to the Japanese cannot be even faintly imagined by anyone unfamiliar with the construction of the native tongue - a language so different from his own that the very simplest Japanese phrase cannot be intelligibly rendered into English by a literal translation of the words or even the form of the thought. And he must learn all this upon a diet no English boy could live on; and always thinly clad in his poor cotton dress without even a fire in his schoolroom during the terrible winter, only a hibachi containing a few lumps of glowing charcoal in a bed of ashes. [5] Is it to be wondered at that even those Japanese students who pass successfully 'through all the educational courses the Empire can open to them can only in rare instances show results of their long training as large as those manifested by students of the West? Better conditions are coming; but at present, under the new strain, young bodies and young minds too often give way. And those who break down are not the dullards, but the pride of schools, the captains of classes.


Yet, so far as the finances of the schools allow, everything possible is done to make the students both healthy and happy - to furnish them with ample opportunities both for physical exercise and for mental enjoyment. Though the course of study is severe, the hours are not long: and one of the daily five is devoted to military drill - made more interesting to the lads by the use of real rifles and bayonets, furnished by Government. There is a fine gymnastic ground near the school, furnished with trapezes, parallel bars, vaulting horses, etc.; and there are two masters of gymnastics attached to the Middle School alone. There are row-boats, in which the boys can take their pleasure on the beautiful lake whenever the weather permits. There is an excellent fencing-school conducted by the Governor himself, who, although so heavy a man, is reckoned one of the best fencers of his own generation. The style taught is the old one, requiring the use of both hands to wield the sword; thrusting is little attempted, it is nearly all heavy slashing. The foils are made of long splinters of bamboo tied together so as to form something resembling elongated fasces: masks and wadded coats protect the head and body, for the blows given are heavy. This sort of fencing requires considerable agility, and gives more active exercise than our severer Western styles. Yet another form of healthy exercise consists of long journeys on foot to famous places. Special holidays are allowed for these. The students march out of town in military order, accompanied by some of their favourite teachers, and perhaps a servant to cook for them. Thus they may travel for a hundred, or even a hundred and fifty miles and back; but if the journey is to be a very long one, only the strong lads are allowed to go. They walk in waraji, the true straw sandal, closely tied to the naked foot, which it leaves perfectly supple and free, without blistering or producing corns. They sleep at night in Buddhist temples; and their cooking is done in the open fields, like that of soldiers in camp.

For those little inclined to such sturdy exercise there is a school library which is growing every year. There is also a monthly school magazine, edited and published by the boys. And there is a Students' Society, at whose regular meetings debates are held upon all conceivable subjects of interest to students.


April 4, 1891. The students of the third, fourth, and fifth year classes write for me once a week brief English compositions upon easy themes which I select for them. As a rule the themes are Japanese. Considering the immense difficulty of the English language to Japanese students, the ability of some of my boys to express their thoughts in it is astonishing. Their compositions have also another interest for me as revelations, not of individual character, but of national sentiment, or of aggregate sentiment of some sort or other. What seems to me most surprising in the compositions of the average Japanese student is that they have no personal cachet at all. Even the handwriting of twenty English compositions will be found to have a curious family resemblance; and striking exceptions are too few to affect the rule. Here is one of the best compositions on my table, by a student at the head of his class. Only a few idiomatic errors have been corrected:

THE MOON 'The Moon appears melancholy to those who are sad, and joyous to those who are happy. The Moon makes memories of home come to those who travel, and creates homesickness. So when the Emperor Godaigo, having been banished to Oki by the traitor Hojo, beheld the moonlight upon the seashore, he cried out, "The Moon is heartless!"

'The sight of the Moon makes an immeasurable feeling in our hearts when we look up at it through the clear air of a beauteous night.

'Our hearts ought to be pure and calm like the light of the Moon.

'Poets often compare the Moon to a Japanese [metal] mirror (kagami); and indeed its shape is the same when it is full.

'The refined man amuses himself with the Moon. He seeks some house looking out upon water, to watch the Moon, and to make verses about it.

'The best places from which to see the Moon are Tsukigashi, and the mountain Obasute.

'The light of the Moon shines alike upon foul and pure, upon high and low. That beautiful Lamp is neither yours nor mine, but everybody's.

'When we look at the Moon we should remember that its waxing and its waning are the signs of the truth that the culmination of all things is likewise the beginning of their decline.'

Any person totally unfamiliar with Japanese educational methods might presume that the foregoing composition shows some original power of thought and imagination. But this is not the case. I found the same thoughts and comparisons in thirty other compositions upon the same subject. Indeed, the compositions of any number of middle-school students upon the same subject are certain to be very much alike in idea and sentiment - though they are none the less charming for that. As a rule the Japanese student shows little originality in the line of imagination. His imagination was made for him long centuries ago - partly in China, partly in his native land. From his childhood he is trained to see and to feel Nature exactly in the manner of those wondrous artists who, with a few swift brushstrokes, fling down upon a sheet of paper the colour-sensation of a chilly dawn, a fervid noon, an autumn evening. Through all his boyhood he is taught to commit to memory the most beautiful thoughts and comparisons to be found in his ancient native literature. Every boy has thus learned that the vision of Fuji against the blue resembles a white half-opened fan, hanging inverted in the sky. Every boy knows that cherry-trees in full blossom look as if the most delicate of flushed summer clouds were caught in their branches. Every boy knows the comparison between the falling of certain leaves on snow and the casting down of texts upon a sheet of white paper with a brush. Every boy and girl knows the verses comparing the print of cat's-feet on snow to plum-flowers, [6] and that comparing the impression of bokkuri on snow to the Japanese character for the number 'two.' These were thoughts of old, old poets; and it would be very hard to invent prettier ones. Artistic power in composition is chiefly shown by the correct memorising and clever combination of these old thoughts.

And the students have been equally well trained to discover a moral in almost everything, animate or inanimate. I have tried them with a hundred subjects - Japanese subjects - for composition; I have never found them to fail in discovering a moral when the theme was a native one. If I suggested 'Fire-flies,' they at once approved the topic, and wrote for me the story of that Chinese student who, being too poor to pay for a lamp, imprisoned many fireflies in a paper lantern, and thus was able to obtain light enough to study after dark, and to become eventually a great scholar. If I said 'Frogs,' they wrote for me the legend of Ono- no-Tofu, who was persuaded to become a learned celebrity by witnessing the tireless perseverance of a frog trying to leap up to a willow- branch. I subjoin a few specimens of the moral ideas which I thus evoked. I have corrected some common mistakes in the originals, but have suffered a few singularities to stand:

THE BOTAN 'The botan [Japanese peony] is large and beautiful to see; but it has a disagreeable smell. This should make us remember that what is only outwardly beautiful in human society should not attract us. To be attracted by beauty only may lead us into fearful and fatal misfortune. The best place to see the botan is the island of Daikonshima in the lake Nakaumi. There in the season of its flowering all the island is red with its blossoms. [7]

THE DRAGON 'When the Dragon tries to ride the clouds and come into heaven there happens immediately a furious storm. When the Dragon dwells on the ground it is supposed to take the form of a stone or other object; but when it wants to rise it calls a cloud. Its body is composed of parts of many animals. It has the eyes of a tiger and the horns of a deer and the body of a crocodile and the claws of an eagle and two trunks like the trunk of an elephant. It has a moral. We should try to be like the dragon, and find out and adopt all the good qualities of others.'

At the close of this essay on the dragon is a note to the teacher, saying: 'I believe not there is any Dragon. But there are many stories and curious pictures about Dragon.'

MOSQUITOES 'On summer nights we hear the sound of faint voices; and little things come and sting our bodies very violently. We call .them ka - in English "mosquitoes." I think the sting is useful for us, because if we begin to sleep, the ka shall come and sting us, uttering a small voice; then we shall be bringed back to study by the sting.'

The following, by a lad of sixteen, is submitted only as a characteristic expression of half-formed ideas about a less familiar subject:

EUROPEAN AND JAPANESE CUSTOMS 'Europeans wear very narrow clothes and they wear shoes always in the house. Japanese wear clothes which are very lenient and they do not shoe except when they walk out-of-the-door.

'What we think very strange is that in Europe every wife loves her husband more than her parents. In Nippon there is no wife who more loves not her parents than her husband.

'And Europeans walk out in the road with their wives, which we utterly refuse to, except on the festival of Hachiman.

'The Japanese woman is treated by man as a servant, while the European woman is respected as a master. I think these customs are both bad.

'We think it is very much trouble to treat European ladies; and we do not know why ladies are so much respected by Europeans.'

Conversation in the class-room about foreign subjects is often equally amusing and suggestive:

'Teacher, I have been told that if a European and his father and his wife were all to fall into the sea together, and that he only could swim, he would try to save his wife first. Would he really?'

'Probably,' I reply.

'But why?'

'One reason is that Europeans consider it a man's duty to help the weaker first - especially women and children.'

'And does a European love his wife more than his father and mother?'

'Not always - but generally, perhaps, he does.'

'Why, Teacher, according to our ideas that is very immoral.'

'Teacher, how do European women carry their babies?'

'In their arms.'

'Very tiring! And how far can a woman walk carrying a baby in her arms?'

'A strong woman can walk many miles with a child in her arms.'

'But she cannot use her hands while she is carrying a baby that way, can she?'

'Not very well.'

'Then it is a very bad way to carry babies,' etc.


May 1, 1891. My favourite students often visit me of afternoons. They first send me their cards, to announce their presence. On being told to come in they leave their footgear on the doorstep, enter my little study, prostrate themselves; and we all squat down together on the floor, which is in all Japanese houses like a soft mattress. The servant brings zabuton or small cushions to kneel upon, and cakes, and tea.

To sit as the Japanese do requires practice; and some Europeans can never acquire the habit. To acquire it, indeed, one must become accustomed to wearing Japanese costume. But once the habit of thus sitting has been formed, one finds it the most natural and easy of positions, and assumes it by preference for eating, reading, smoking, or chatting. It is not to be recommended, perhaps, for writing with a European pen - as the motion in our Occidental style of writing is from the supported wrist; but it is the best posture for writing with the Japanese fude, in using which the whole arm is unsupported, and the motion from the elbow. After having become habituated to Japanese habits for more than a year, I must confess that I find it now somewhat irksome to use a chair.

When we have all greeted each other, and taken our places upon the kneeling cushions, a little polite silence ensues, which I am the first to break. Some of the lads speak a good deal of English. They understand me well when I pronounce every word slowly and distinctly - using simple phrases, and avoiding idioms. When a word with which they are not familiar must be used, we refer to a good English-Japanese dictionary, which gives each vernacular meaning both in the kana and in the Chinese characters.

Usually my young visitors stay a long time, and their stay is rarely tiresome. Their conversation and their thoughts are of the simplest and frankest. They do not come to learn: they know that to ask their teacher to teach out of school would be unjust. They speak chiefly of things which they think have some particular interest for me. Sometimes they scarcely speak at all, but appear to sink into a sort of happy reverie. What they come really for is the quiet pleasure of sympathy. Not an intellectual sympathy, but the sympathy of pure goodwill: the simple pleasure of being quite comfortable with a friend. They peep at my books and pictures; and sometimes they bring books and pictures to show me - delightfully queer things - family heirlooms which I regret much that I cannot buy. They also like to look at my garden, and enjoy all that is in it even more than I. Often they bring me gifts of flowers. Never by any possible chance are they troublesome, impolite, curious, or even talkative. Courtesy in its utmost possible exquisiteness - an exquisiteness of which even the French have no conception - seems natural to the Izumo boy as the colour of his hair or the tint of his skin. Nor is he less kind than courteous. To contrive pleasurable surprises for me is one of the particular delights of my boys; and they either bring or cause to be brought to the house all sorts of strange things.

Of all the strange or beautiful things which I am thus privileged to examine, none gives me so much pleasure as a certain wonderful kakemono of Amida Nyorai. It is rather large picture, and has been borrowed from a priest that I may see it. The Buddha stands in the attitude of exhortation, with one, hand uplifted. Behind his head a huge moon makes an aureole and across the face of that moon stream winding lines of thinnest cloud. Beneath his feet, like a rolling of smoke, curl heavier and darker clouds. Merely as a work of colour and design, the thing is a marvel. But the real wonder of it is not in colour or design at all. Minute examination reveals the astonishing fact that every shadow and clouding is formed by a fairy text of Chinese characters so minute that only a keen eye can discern them; and this text is the entire text of two famed sutras - the Kwammu-ryjo-kyo and the Amida-kyo - 'text no larger than the limbs of fleas.' And all the strong dark lines of the figure, such as the seams of the Buddha's robe, are formed by the characters of the holy invocation of the Shin-shu sect, repeated thousands of times: 'Namu Amida Butsu!' Infinite patience, tireless silent labour of loving faith, in some dim temple, long ago.

Another day one of my boys persuades his father to let him bring to my house a wonderful statue of Koshi (Confucius), made, I am told, in China, toward the close of the period of the Ming dynasty. I am also assured it is the first time the statue has ever been removed from the family residence to be shown to anyone. Previously, whoever desired to pay it reverence had to visit the house. It is truly a beautiful bronze. The figure of a smiling, bearded old man, with fingers uplifted and lips apart as if discoursing. He wears quaint Chinese shoes, and his flowing robes are adorned with the figure of the mystic phoenix. The microscopic finish of detail seems indeed to reveal the wonderful cunning of a Chinese hand: each tooth, each hair, looks as though it had been made the subject of a special study.

Another student conducts me to the home of one of his relatives, that I may see a cat made of wood, said to have been chiselled by the famed Hidari Jingoro - a cat crouching and watching, and so life-like that real cats 'have been known to put up their backs and spit at it.'


Nevertheless I have a private conviction that some old artists even now living in Matsue could make a still more wonderful cat. Among these is the venerable Arakawa Junosuke, who wrought many rare things for the Daimyo of Izumo in the Tempo era, and whose acquaintance I have been enabled to make through my school-friends. One evening he brings to my house something very odd to show me, concealed in his sleeve. It is a doll: just a small carven and painted head without a body, - the body being represented by a tiny robe only, attached to the neck. Yet as Arakawa Junosuke manipulates it, it seems to become alive. The back of its head is like the back of a very old man's head; but its face is the face of an amused child, and there is scarcely any forehead nor any evidence of a thinking disposition. And whatever way the head is turned, it looks so funny that one cannot help laughing at it. It represents a kirakubo - what we might call in English 'a jolly old boy,' - one who is naturally too hearty and too innocent to feel trouble of any sort. It is not an original, but a model of a very famous original - whose history is recorded in a faded scroll which Arakawa takes out of his other sleeve, and which a friend translates for me. This little history throws a curious light upon the simple-hearted ways of Japanese life and thought in other centuries:

'Two hundred and sixty years ago this doll was made by a famous maker of No-masks in the city of Kyoto, for the Emperor Go-midzu-no-O. The Emperor used to have it placed beside his pillow each night before he slept, and was very fond of it. And he composed the following poem concerning it:

Yo no naka wo Kiraku ni kurase Nani goto mo Omoeba omou Omowaneba koso. [8]'

'On the death of the Emperor this doll became the property of Prince Konoye, in whose family it is said to be still preserved.

'About one hundred and seven years ago, the then Ex-Empress, whose posthumous name is Sei-Kwa-Mon-Yin, borrowed the doll from Prince Konoye, and ordered a copy of it to be made. This copy she kept always beside her, and was very fond of it.

'After the death of the good Empress this doll was given to a lady of the court, whose family name is not recorded. Afterwards this lady, for reasons which are not known, cut off her hair and became a Buddhist nun - taking the name of Shingyo-in.

'And one who knew the Nun Shingyo-in - a man whose name was Kondo-ju-haku-in-Hokyo - had the honour of receiving the doll as a gift.

'Now I, who write this document, at one time fell sick; and my sickness was caused by despondency. And my friend Kondo-ju-haku-in-Hokyo, coming to see me, said: "I have in my house something which will make you well." And he went home and, presently returning, brought to me this doll, and lent it to me - putting it by my pillow that I might see it and laugh at it.

'Afterward, I myself, having called upon the Nun Shingyo-in, whom I now also have the honour to know, wrote down the history of the doll, and make a poem thereupon.'

(Dated about ninety years ago: no signature.)


June 1, 1891 I find among the students a healthy tone of scepticism in regard to certain forms of popular belief. Scientific education is rapidly destroying credulity in old superstitions yet current among the unlettered, and especially among the peasantry - as, for instance, faith in mamori and ofuda. The outward forms of Buddhism - its images, its relics, its commoner practices - affect the average student very little. He is not, as a foreigner may be, interested in iconography, or religious folklore, or the comparative study of religions; and in nine cases out of ten he is rather ashamed of the signs and tokens of popular faith all around him. But the deeper religious sense, which underlies all symbolism, remains with him; and the Monistic Idea in Buddhism is being strengthened and expanded, rather than weakened, by the new education. What is true of the effect of the public schools upon the lower Buddhism is equally true of its effect upon the lower Shinto. Shinto the students all sincerely are, or very nearly all; yet not as fervent worshippers of certain Kami, but as rigid observers of what the higher Shinto signifies - loyalty, filial piety, obedience to parents, teachers, and superiors, and respect to ancestors. For Shinto means more than faith.

When, for the first time, I stood before the shrine of the Great Deity of Kitzuki, as the first Occidental to whom that privilege had been accorded, not without a sense of awe there came to me the 'This is the Shrine of the Father of a Race; this is the symbolic centre of a nation's reverence for its past.' And I, too, paid reverence to the memory of the progenitor of this people.

As I then felt, so feels the intelligent student of the Meiji era whom education has lifted above the common plane of popular creeds. And Shinto also means for him - whether he reasons upon the question or not - all the ethics of the family, and all that spirit of loyalty which has become so innate that, at the call of duty, life itself ceases to have value save as an instrument for duty's accomplishment. As yet, this Orient little needs to reason about the origin of its loftier ethics. Imagine the musical sense in our own race so developed that a child could play a complicated instrument so soon as the little fingers gained sufficient force and flexibility to strike the notes. By some such comparison only can one obtain a just idea of what inherent religion and instinctive duty signify in Izumo.

Of the rude and aggressive form of scepticism so common in the Occident, which is the natural reaction after sudden emancipation from superstitious belief, I find no trace among my students. But such sentiment may be found elsewhere - especially in Tokyo - among the university students, one of whom, upon hearing the tones of a magnificent temple bell, exclaimed to a friend of mine: 'Is it not a shame that in this nineteenth century we must still hear such a sound?'

For the benefit of curious travellers, however, I may here take occasion to observe that to talk Buddhism to Japanese gentlemen of the new school is in just as bad taste as to talk Christianity at home to men of that class whom knowledge has placed above creeds and forms. There are, of course, Japanese scholars willing to aid researches of foreign scholars in religion or in folk-lore; but these specialists do not undertake to gratify idle curiosity of the 'globe-trotting' description. I may also say that the foreigner desirous to learn the religious ideas or superstitions of the common people must obtain them from the people themselves - not from the educated classes.


Among all my favourite students - two or three from each class - I cannot decide whom I like the best. Each has a particular merit of his own. But I think the names and faces of those of whom I am about to speak will longest remain vivid in my remembrance - Ishihara, Otani-Masanobu, Adzukizawa, Yokogi, Shida.

Ishihara is a samurai a very influential lad in his class because of his uncommon force of character. Compared with others, he has a somewhat brusque, independent manner, pleasing, however, by its honest manliness. He says everything he thinks, and precisely in the tone that he thinks it, even to the degree of being a little embarrassing sometimes. He does not hesitate, for example, to find fault with a teacher's method of explanation, and to insist upon a more lucid one. He has criticized me more than once; but I never found that he was wrong. We like each other very much. He often brings me flowers.

One day that he had brought two beautiful sprays of plum-blossoms, he said to me:

'I saw you bow before our Emperor's picture at the ceremony on the birthday of His Majesty. You are not like a former English teacher we had.'


'He said we were savages.'


'He said there is nothing respectable except God - his God - and that only vulgar and ignorant people respect anything else.'

'Where did he come from?'

'He was a Christian clergyman, and said he was an English subject.'

'But if he was an English subject, he was bound to respect Her Majesty the Queen. He could not even enter the office of a British consul without removing his hat.'

'I don't know what he did in the country he came from. But that was what he said. Now we think we should love and honour our Emperor. We think it is a duty. We think it is a joy. We think it is happiness to be able to give our lives for our Emperor. [9] But he said we were only savages - ignorant savages. What do you think of that?'

'I think, my dear lad, that he himself was a savage - a vulgar, ignorant, savage bigot. I think it is your highest social duty to honour your Emperor, to obey his laws, and to be ready to give your blood whenever he may require it of you for the sake of Japan. I think it is your duty to respect the gods of your fathers, the religion of your country - even if you yourself cannot believe all that others believe. And I think, also, that it is your duty, for your Emperor's sake and for your country's sake, to resent any such wicked and vulgar language as that you have told me of, no matter by whom uttered.'

Masanobu visits me seldom and always comes alone. A slender, handsome lad, with rather feminine features, reserved and perfectly self- possessed in manner, refined. He is somewhat serious, does not often smile; and I never heard him laugh. He has risen to the head of his class, and appears to remain there without any extraordinary effort. Much of his leisure time he devotes to botany - collecting and classifying plants. He is a musician, like all the male members of his family. He plays a variety of instruments never seen or heard of in the West, including flutes of marble, flutes of ivory, flutes of bamboo of wonderful shapes and tones, and that shrill Chinese instrument called sho - a sort of mouth-organ consisting of seventeen tubes of different lengths fixed in a silver frame. He first explained to me the uses in temple music of the taiko and shoko, which are drums; of the flutes called fei or teki; of the flageolet termed hichiriki; and of the kakko, which is a little drum shaped like a spool with very narrow waist, On great Buddhist festivals, Masanobu and his father and his brothers are the musicians in the temple services, and they play the strange music called Ojo and Batto - music which at first no Western ear can feel pleasure in, but which, when often heard, becomes comprehensible, and is found to possess a weird charm of its own. When Masanobu comes to the house, it is usually in order to invite me to attend some Buddhist or Shinto festival (matsuri) which he knows will interest me.

Adzukizawa bears so little resemblance to Masanobu that one might suppose the two belonged to totally different races. Adzukizawa is large, raw-boned, heavy-looking, with a face singularly like that of a North American Indian. His people are not rich; he can afford few pleasures which cost money, except one - buying books. Even to be able to do this he works in his leisure hours to earn money. He is a perfect bookworm, a natural-born researcher, a collector of curious documents, a haunter of all the queer second-hand stores in Teramachi and other streets where old manuscripts or prints are on sale as waste paper. He is an omnivorous reader, and a perpetual borrower of volumes, which he always returns in perfect condition after having copied what he deemed of most value to him. But his special delight is philosophy and the history of philosophers in all countries. He has read various epitomes of the history of philosophy in the Occident, and everything of modern philosophy which has been translated into Japanese - including Spencer's First Principles. I have been able to introduce him to Lewes and John Fiske - both of which he appreciates, - although the strain of studying philosophy in English is no small one. Happily he is so strong that no amount of study is likely to injure his health, and his nerves are tough as wire. He is quite an ascetic withal. As it is the Japanese custom to set cakes and tea before visitors, I always have both in readiness, and an especially fine quality of kwashi, made at Kitzuki, of which the students are very fond. Adzukizawa alone refuses to taste cakes or confectionery of any kind, saying: 'As I am the youngest brother, I must begin to earn my own living soon. I shall have to endure much hardship. And if I allow myself to like dainties now, I shall only suffer more later on.' Adzukizawa has seen much of human life and character. He is naturally observant; and he has managed in some extraordinary way to learn the history of everybody in Matsue. He has brought me old tattered prints to prove that the opinions now held by our director are diametrically opposed to the opinions he advocated fourteen years ago in a public address. I asked the director about it. He laughed and said, 'Of course that is Adzukizawa! But he is right: I was very young then.' And I wonder if Adzukizawa was ever young.

Yokogi, Adzukizawa's dearest friend, is a very rare visitor; for he is always studying at home. He is always first in his class - the third year class - while Adzukizawa is fourth. Adzukizawa's account of the beginning of their acquaintance is this: 'I watched him when he came and saw that he spoke very little, walked very quickly, and looked straight into everybody's eyes. So I knew he had a particular character. I like to know people with a particular character.' Adzukizawa was perfectly right: under a very gentle exterior, Yokogi has an extremely strong character. He is the son of a carpenter; and his parents could not afford to send him to the Middle School. But he had shown such exceptional qualities while in the Elementary School that a wealthy man became interested in him, and offered to pay for his education. [10] He is now the pride of the school. He has a remarkably placid face, with peculiarly long eyes, and a delicious smile. In class he is always asking intelligent questions - questions so original that I am sometimes extremely puzzled how to answer them; and he never ceases to ask until the explanation is quite satisfactory to himself. He never cares about the opinion of his comrades if he thinks he is right. On one occasion when the whole class refused to attend the lectures of a new teacher of physics, Yokogi alone refused to act with them - arguing that although the teacher was not all that could be desired, there was no immediate possibility of his removal, and no just reason for making unhappy a man who, though unskilled, was sincerely doing his best. Adzukizawa finally stood by him. These two alone attended the lectures until the remainder of the students, two weeks later, found that Yokogi's views were rational. On another occasion when some vulgar proselytism was attempted by a Christian missionary, Yokogi went boldly to the proselytiser's house, argued with him on the morality of his effort, and reduced him to silence. Some of his comrades praised his cleverness in the argument. 'I am not clever,' he made answer: 'it does not require cleverness to argue against what is morally wrong; it requires only the knowledge that one is morally right.' At least such is about the translation of what he said as told me by Adzukizawa.

Shida, another visitor, is a very delicate, sensitive boy, whose soul is full of art. He is very skilful at drawing and painting; and he has a wonderful set of picture-books by the Old Japanese masters. The last time he came he brought some prints to show me - rare ones - fairy maidens and ghosts. As I looked at his beautiful pale face and weirdly frail fingers, I could not help fearing for him, - fearing that he might soon become a little ghost.

I have not seen him now for more than two months. He has been very, very ill; and his lungs are so weak that the doctor has forbidden him to converse. But Adzukizawa has been to visit him, and brings me this translation of a Japanese letter which the sick boy wrote and pasted upon the wall above his bed:

'Thou, my Lord-Soul, dost govern me. Thou knowest that I cannot now govern myself. Deign, I pray thee, to let me be cured speedily. Do not suffer me to speak much. Make me to obey in all things the command of the physician.

'This ninth day of the eleventh month of the twenty-fourth year of Meiji.

'From the sick body of Shida to his Soul.'


September 4, 1891. The long summer vacation is over; a new school year begins. There have been many changes. Some of the boys I taught are dead. Others have graduated and gone away from Matsue for ever. Some teachers, too, have left the school, and their places have been filled; and there is a new Director.

And the dear good Governor has gone - been transferred to cold Niigata in the north-west. It was a promotion. But he had ruled Izumo for seven years, and everybody loved him, especially, perhaps, the students, who looked upon him as a father. All the population of the city crowded to the river to bid him farewell. The streets through which he passed on his way to take the steamer, the bridge, the wharves, even the roofs were thronged with multitudes eager to see his face for the last time. Thousands were weeping. And as the steamer glided from the wharf such a cry arose - 'A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a!' It was intended for a cheer, but it seemed to me the cry of a whole city sorrowing, and so plaintive that I hope never to hear such a cry again.

The names and faces of the younger classes are all strange to me. Doubtless this was why the sensation of my first day's teaching in the school came back to me with extraordinary vividness when I entered the class-room of First Division A this morning.

Strangely pleasant is the first sensation of a Japanese class, as you look over the ranges of young faces before you. There is nothing in them familiar to inexperienced Western eyes; yet there is an indescribable pleasant something common to all. Those traits have nothing incisive, nothing forcible: compared with Occidental faces they seem but 'half- sketched,' so soft their outlines are - indicating neither aggressiveness nor shyness, neither eccentricity nor sympathy, neither curiosity nor indifference. Some, although faces of youths well grown, have a childish freshness and frankness indescribable; some are as uninteresting as others are attractive; a few are beautifully feminine. But all are equally characterized by a singular placidity - expressing neither love nor hate nor anything save perfect repose and gentleness - like the dreamy placidity of Buddhist images. At a later day you will no longer recognise this aspect of passionless composure: with growing acquaintance each face will become more and more individualised for you by characteristics before imperceptible. But the recollection of that first impression will remain with you and the time will come when you will find, by many varied experiences, how strangely it foreshadowed something in Japanese character to be fully learned only after years of familiarity. You will recognize in the memory of that first impression one glimpse of the race-soul, with its impersonal lovableness and its impersonal weaknesses - one glimpse of the nature of a life in which the Occidental, dwelling alone, feels a psychic comfort comparable only to the nervous relief of suddenly emerging from some stifling atmospheric pressure into thin, clear, free living air.


Was it not the eccentric Fourier who wrote about the horrible faces of 'the civilisUs'? Whoever it was, would have found seeming confirmation of his physiognomical theory could he have known the effect produced by the first sight of European faces in the most eastern East. What we are taught at home to consider handsome, interesting, or characteristic in physiognomy does not produce the same impression in China or Japan. Shades of facial expression familiar to us as letters of our own alphabet are not perceived at all in Western features by these Orientals at first acquaintance. What they discern at once is the race- characteristic, not the individuality. The evolutional meaning of the deep-set Western eye, protruding brow, accipitrine nose, ponderous jaw - symbols of aggressive force and habit - was revealed to the gentler race by the same sort of intuition through which a tame animal immediately comprehends the dangerous nature of the first predatory enemy which it sees. To Europeans the smooth-featured, slender, low-statured Japanese seemed like boys; and 'boy' is the term by which the native attendant of a Yokohama merchant is still called. To Japanese the first red-haired, rowdy, drunken European sailors seemed fiends, shojo, demons of the sea; and by the Chinese the Occidentals are still called 'foreign devils.' The great stature and massive strength and fierce gait of foreigners in Japan enhanced the strange impression created by their faces. Children cried for fear on seeing them pass through the streets. And in remoter districts, Japanese children are still apt to cry at the first sight of a European or American face.

A lady of Matsue related in my presence this curious souvenir of her childhood: 'When I was a very little girl,' she said, our daimyo hired a foreigner to teach the military art. My father and a great many samurai went to receive the foreigner; and all the people lined the streets to see - for no foreigner had ever come to Izumo before; and we all went to look. The foreigner came by ship: there were no steamboats here then. He was very tall, and walked quickly with long steps; and the children began to cry at the sight of him, because his face was not like the faces of the people of Nihon. My little brother cried out loud, and hid his face in mother's robe; and mother reproved him and said: "This foreigner is a very good man who has come here to serve our prince; and it is very disrespectful to cry at seeing him." But he still cried. I was not afraid; and I looked up at the foreigner's face as he came and smiled. He had a great beard; and I thought his face was good though it seemed to me a very strange face and stern. Then he stopped and smiled too, and put something in my hand, and touched my head and face very softly with his great fingers, and said something I could not understand, and went away. After he had gone I looked at what he put into my hand and found that it was a pretty little glass to look through. If you put a fly under that glass it looks quite big. At that time I thought the glass was a very wonderful thing. I have it still.' She took from a drawer in the room and placed before me a tiny, dainty pocket-microscope.

The hero of this little incident was a French military officer. His services were necessarily dispensed with on the abolition of the feudal system. Memories of him still linger in Matsue; and old people remember a popular snatch about him - a sort of rapidly-vociferated rigmarole, supposed to be an imitation of his foreign speech:

Tojin no negoto niwa kinkarakuri medagasho, Saiboji ga shimpeishite harishite keisan, Hanryo na Sacr-r-r-r-r-U-na-nom-da-Jiu.


November 2, 1891. Shida will never come to school again. He sleeps under the shadow of the cedars, in the old cemetery of Tokoji. Yokogi, at the memorial service, read a beautiful address (saibun) to the soul of his dead comrade.

But Yokogi himself is down. And I am very much afraid for him. He is suffering from some affection of the brain, brought on, the doctor says, by studying a great deal too hard. Even if he gets well, he will always have to be careful. Some of us hope much; for the boy is vigorously built and so young. Strong Sakane burst a blood-vessel last month and is now well. So we trust that Yokogi may rally. Adzukizawa daily brings news of his friend.

But the rally never comes. Some mysterious spring in the mechanism of the young life has been broken. The mind lives only in brief intervals between long hours of unconsciousness. Parents watch, and friends, for these living moments to whisper caressing things, or to ask: 'Is there anything thou dost wish?' And one night the answer comes:

'Yes: I want to go to the school; I want to see the school.'

Then they wonder if the fine brain has not wholly given way, while they make answer:

'It is midnight past, and there is no moon. And the night is cold.'

'No; I can see by the stars - I want to see the school again.'

They make kindliest protests in vain: the dying boy only repeats, with the plaintive persistence of a last - 'I want to see the school again; I want to see it now.' So there is a murmured consultation in the neighbouring room; and tansu-drawers are unlocked, warm garments prepared. Then Fusaichi, the strong servant, enters with lantern lighted, and cries out in his kind rough voice:

'Master Tomi will go to the school upon my back: 'tis but a little way; he shall see the school again.

Carefully they wrap up the lad in wadded robes; then he puts his arms about Fusaichi's shoulders like a child; and the strong servant bears him lightly through the wintry street; and the father hurries beside Fusaichi, bearing the lantern. And it is not far to the school, over the little bridge.

The huge dark grey building looks almost black in the night; but Yokogi can see. He looks at the windows of his own classroom; at the roofed side-door where each morning for four happy years he used to exchange his getas for soundless sandals of straw; at the lodge of the slumbering Kodzukai; [11] at the silhouette of the bell hanging black in its little turret against the stars. Then he murmurs:

'I can remember all now. I had forgotten - so sick I was. I remember everything again: Oh, Fusaichi, you are very good. I am so glad to have seen the school again.'

And they hasten back through the long void streets.


November 26 1891.

Yokogi will be buried to-morrow evening beside his comrade Shida.

When a poor person is about to die, friends and neighbours come to the house and do all they can to help the family. Some bear the tidings to distant relatives; others prepare all necessary things; others, when the death has been announced, summon the Buddhist priests. [12]

It is said that the priests know always of a parishioner's death at night, before any messenger is sent to them; for the soul of the dead knocks heavily, once, upon the door of the family temple. Then the priests arise and robe themselves, and when the messenger comes make answer: 'We know: we are ready.'

Meanwhile the body is carried out before the family butsudan, and laid upon the floor. No pillow is placed under the head. A naked sword is laid across the limbs to keep evil spirits away. The doors of the butsudan are opened; and tapers are lighted before the tablets of the ancestors; and incense is burned. All friends send gifts of incense. Wherefore a gift of incense, however rare and precious, given upon any other occasion, is held to be unlucky.

But the Shinto household shrine must be hidden from view with white paper; and the Shinto ofuda fastened upon the house door must be covered up during all the period of mourning. [13] And in all that time no member of the family may approach a Shinto temple, or pray to the Kami, or even pass beneath a torii.

A screen (biobu) is extended between the body and the principal entrance of the death chamber; and the kaimyo, inscribed upon a strip of white paper, is fastened upon the screen. If the dead be young the screen must be turned upside-down; but this is not done in the case of old people.

Friends pray beside the corpse. There a little box is placed, containing one thousand peas, to be used for counting during the recital of those one thousand pious invocations, which, it is believed, will improve the condition of the soul on its unfamiliar journey.

The priests come and recite the sutras; and then the body is prepared for burial. It is washed in warm water, and robed all in white. But the kimono of the dead is lapped over to the left side. Wherefore it is considered unlucky at any other time to fasten one's kimono thus, even by accident.

When the body has been put into that strange square coffin which looks something like a wooden palanquin, each relative puts also into the coffin some of his or her hair or nail parings, symbolizing their blood. And six rin are also placed in the coffin, for the six Jizo who stand at the heads of the ways of the Six Shadowy Worlds.

The funeral procession forms at the family residence. A priest leads it, ringing a little bell; a boy bears the ihai of the newly dead. The van of the procession is wholly composed of men - relatives and friends. Some carry hata, white symbolic bannerets; some bear flowers; all carry paper lanterns - for in Izumo the adult dead are buried after dark: only children are buried by day. Next comes the kwan or coffin, borne palanquin-wise upon the shoulders of men of that pariah caste whose office it is to dig graves and assist at funerals. Lastly come the women mourners.

They are all white-hooded and white-robed from head to feet, like phantoms. [14] Nothing more ghostly than this sheeted train of an Izumo funeral procession, illuminated only by the glow of paper lanterns, can be imagined. It is a weirdness that, once seen, will often return in dreams.

At the temple the kwan is laid upon the pavement before the entrance; and another service is performed, with plaintive music and recitation of sutras. Then the procession forms again, winds once round the temple court, and takes its way to the cemetery. But the body is not buried until twenty-four hours later, lest the supposed dead should awake in the grave.

Corpses are seldom burned in Izumo. In this, as in other matters, the predominance of Shinto sentiment is manifest.


For the last time I see his face again, as he lies upon his bed of death - white-robed from neck to feet - white-girdled for his shadowy journey - but smiling with closed eyes in almost the same queer gentle way he was wont to smile at class on learning the explanation of some seeming riddle in our difficult English tongue. Only, methinks, the smile is sweeter now, as with sudden larger knowledge of more mysterious things. So smiles, through dusk of incense in the great temple of Tokoji, the golden face of Buddha.


December 23, 1891. The great bell of Tokoji is booming for the memorial service - for the tsuito-kwai of Yokogi - slowly and regularly as a minute-gun. Peal on peal of its rich bronze thunder shakes over the lake, surges over the roofs of the town, and breaks in deep sobs of sound against the green circle of the hills.

It is a touching service, this tsuito-kwai, with quaint ceremonies which, although long since adopted into Japanese Buddhism, are of Chinese origin and are beautiful. It is also a costly ceremony; and the parents of Yokogi are very poor. But all the expenses have been paid by voluntary subscription of students and teachers. Priests from every great temple of the Zen sect in Izumo have assembled at Tokoji. All the teachers of the city and all the students have entered the hondo of the huge temple, and taken their places to the right and to the left of the high altar - kneeling on the matted floor, and leaving, on the long broad steps without, a thousand shoes and sandals.

Before the main entrance, and facing the high shrine, a new butsudan has been placed, within whose open doors the ihai of the dead boy glimmers in lacquer and gilding. And upon a small stand before the butsudan have been placed an incense-vessel with bundles of senko-rods and offerings of fruits, confections, rice, and flowers. Tall and beautiful flower- vases on each side of the butsudan are filled with blossoming sprays, exquisitely arranged. Before the honzon tapers burn in massive candelabra whose stems of polished brass are writhing monsters - the Dragon Ascending and the Dragon Descending; and incense curls up from vessels shaped like the sacred deer, like the symbolic tortoise, like the meditative stork of Buddhist legend. And beyond these, in the twilight of the vast alcove, the Buddha smiles the smile of Perfect Rest.

Between the butsudan and the honzon a little table has been placed; and on either side of it the priests kneel in ranks, facing each other: rows of polished heads, and splendours of vermilion silks and vestments gold- embroidered.

The great bell ceases to peal; the Segaki prayer, which is the prayer uttered when offerings of food are made to the spirits of the dead, is recited; and a sudden sonorous measured tapping, accompanied by a plaintive chant, begins the musical service. The tapping is the tapping of the mokugyo - a huge wooden fish-head, lacquered and gilded, like the head of a dolphin grotesquely idealised - marking the time; and the chant is the chant of the Chapter of Kwannon in the Hokkekyo, with its magnificent invocation:

'O Thou whose eyes are clear, whose eyes are kind, whose eyes are full of pity and of sweetness - O Thou Lovely One, with thy beautiful face, with thy beautiful eye - O Thou Pure One, whose luminosity is without spot, whose knowledge is without shado - O Thou forever shining like that Sun whose glory no power may repel - Thou Sun-like in the course of Thy mercy, pourest Light upon the world!'

And while the voices of the leaders chant clear and high in vibrant unison, the multitude of the priestly choir recite in profoundest undertone the mighty verses; and the sound of their recitation is like the muttering of surf.

The mokugyo ceases its dull echoing, the impressive chant ends, and the leading officiants, one by one, high priests of famed temples, approach the ihai. Each bows low, ignites an incense-rod, and sets it upright in the little vase of bronze. Each at a time recites a holy verse of which the initial sound is the sound of a letter in the kaimyo of the dead boy; and these verses, uttered in the order of the characters upon the ihai, form the sacred Acrostic whose name is The Words of Perfume.

Then the priests retire to their places; and after a little silence begins the reading of the saibun - the reading of the addresses to the soul of the dead. The students speak first - one from each class, chosen by election. The elected rises, approaches the little table before the high altar, bows to the honzon, draws from his bosom a paper and reads it in those melodious, chanting, and plaintive tones which belong to the reading of Chinese texts. So each one tells the affection of the living to the dead, in words of loving grief and loving hope. And last among the students a gentle girl rises - a pupil of the Normal School - to speak in tones soft as a bird's. As each saibun is finished, the reader lays the written paper upon the table before the honzon, and bows; and retires.

It is now the turn of the teachers; and an old man takes his place at the little table - old Katayama, the teacher of Chinese, famed as a poet, adored as an instructor. And because the students all love him as a father, there is a strange intensity of silence as he begins - Ko-Shimane-Ken-Jinjo-Chugakko-yo-nen-sei:

'Here upon the twenty-third day of the twelfth month of the twenty-fourth year of Meiji, I, Katayama Shokei, teacher of the Jinjo Chugakko of Shimane Ken, attending in great sorrow the holy service of the dead [tsui-fuku], do speak unto the soul of Yokogi Tomisaburo, my pupil.

'Having been, as thou knowest, for twice five years, at different periods, a teacher of the school, I have indeed met with not a few most excellent students. But very, very rarely in any school may the teacher find one such as thou - so patient and so earnest, so diligent and so careful in all things - so distinguished among thy comrades by thy blameless conduct, observing every precept, never breaking a rule.

'Of old in the land of Kihoku, famed for its horses, whenever a horse of rarest breed could not be obtained, men were wont to say: "There is no horse." Still there are many line lads among our students - many ryume, fine young steeds; but we have lost the best.

'To die at the age of seventeen - the best period of life for study - even when of the Ten Steps thou hadst already ascended six! Sad is the thought; but sadder still to know that thy last illness was caused only by thine own tireless zeal of study. Even yet more sad our conviction that with those rare gifts, and with that rare character of thine, thou wouldst surely, in that career to which thou wast destined, have achieved good and great things, honouring the names of thine ancestors, couldst thou have lived to manhood.

'I see thee lifting thy hand to ask some question; then bending above thy little desk to make note of all thy poor old teacher was able to tell thee. Again I see thee in the ranks - thy rifle upon thy shoulder - so bravely erect during the military exercises. Even now thy face is before me, with its smile, as plainly as if thou wert present in the body - thy voice I think I hear distinctly as though thou hadst but this instant finished speaking; yet I know that, except in memory, these never will be seen and heard again. O Heaven, why didst thou take away that dawning life from the world, and leave such a one as I - old Shokei, feeble, decrepit, and of no more use?

'To thee my relation was indeed only that of teacher to pupil. Yet what is my distress! I have a son of twenty-four years; he is now far from me, in Yokohama. I know he is only a worthless youth; [15] yet never for so much as the space of one hour does the thought of him leave his old father's heart. Then how must the father and mother, the brothers and the sisters of this gentle and gifted youth feel now that he is gone! Only to think of it forces the tears from my eyes: I cannot speak - so full my heart is.

'Aa! aa! - thou hast gone from us; thou hast gone from us! Yet though thou hast died, thy earnestness, thy goodness, will long be honoured and told of as examples to the students of our school.

'Here, therefore, do we, thy teachers and thy schoolmates, hold this service in behalf of thy spirit, - with prayer and offerings. Deign thou, 0 gentle Soul, to honour our love by the acceptance of our humble gifts.'

Then a sound of sobbing is suddenly whelmed by the resonant booming of the great fish's-head, as the high-pitched voices of the leaders of the chant begin the grand Nehan-gyo, the Sutra of Nirvana, the song of passage triumphant over the Sea of Death and Birth; and deep below those high tones and the hollow echoing of the mokugyo, the surging bass of a century of voices reciting the sonorous words, sounds like the breaking of a sea:

'Sho-gyo mu-jo, je-sho meppo. - Transient are all. They, being born, must die. And being born, are dead. And being dead, are glad to be at rest.'