A whole week of my too short stay was given to Myanoshita, whither I was driven by the impossibility of retaining a room in either Yokohama or Tokio, and where I stayed willingly on, out of delight in the place itself. After being cooped up for so long on ships, and kept inactive under the heat of India, it was like a new existence to take immense walks among these mountains in the keen rarified air, even though there was both rain and snow. Myanoshita stands some four thousand feet high and is situated in a valley in which are many summer cottages and health resorts. The heart of this Alpine settlement is the Fujiya Hotel, where I was living, which is kept by an enterprising Americanised and Europeanised Japanese proprietor and his very charming wife, Madame Yamaguchi, whose father was the founder of the house, and, I believe, the discoverer of the district, and who herself is famous as a gracious hostess throughout Japan. No hotel so well or so thoughtfully administered have I ever stayed in; nor was I ever in another where the water for the bath gushes in from a natural hot spring. But hot springs are numerous in this region, while there is a gorge which I visited, some four miles distant, where boiling sulphur hisses and bubbles for ever and aye.

Many of the Myanoshita dishes were new to me and welcome. There is an excellent salad called "Slow," and the bamboo, which is Japan's best friend - serving the nation in scores of ways: as fences, as walls, as water-pipes, as supports, as carrying-poles, as thatch, as fishing-rods - here found its way into the salad bowl and was not distasteful. The custom of drinking a glass of orange juice before breakfast might well be adopted with us; but not the least of the oddities of England which I realised as I moved about the earth is our unwillingness to eat fruit. Japan also has a perfect mineral water, "Tansan."

When not making long expeditions to catch new glimpses of Fuji I roamed about the hill-sides among the little villages, or leaned over crazy bridges to watch the waterfalls beneath; for there is water everywhere, tumbling down to the distant ocean, a wedge of which can be seen from the hotel windows. This Japanese valley might be in Switzerland, save for the absence of any but human life. Not a cow, not a goat.

The labourers wear blue linen smocks, usually with some device upon them, and they merge into the landscape as naturally as French or Belgian peasants. These men, whether working on the soil or the roads, or engaged in cutting bamboos or building houses, wear the large straw hats that one sees in the old Japanese prints. Nothing has changed in their dress. But the modernized Japanese, the dweller in the cities or casual visitor to the country, pins his faith to the bowler. The bowler is so much his favourite headgear that he wears it often with native costume on his body. Perhaps it is to Japan that all the bowlers have gone, now that London has taken to the soft Homburg. It was odd to meet groups of these bizarre little men among the precipices: even stranger perhaps were their little ladies, especially on Sunday, in the gayest Japanese clothes, their faces plastered with rice powder and cigarettes in their mouths. Too many of them are disfigured by gold teeth, which are so common in Japan as to be almost the rule. An English resident assured me that I must not assume that the Japanese teeth are therefore unusually defective: often the gold is merely ostentation, a visible sign that the owner of the auriferous mouth is both alive to American progress and can afford it.

Even in Myanoshita Fujiyama has to be sought for and climbed for, the walls of rock that form the valley being so high and enclosing. But the result is worth every effort. Immediately above the hotel is a hill from whose summit the upper part of the enchanted mountain can be seen, and I ascended tortuously to this point within an hour of my arrival. The next day I walked to Lake Hakone (where the Emperor has a summer palace), some eight miles away, in the hope of getting Fuji's white crest reflected on its surface; but a veil of mist enshrouded all. And then twice I went to the edge of the watershed at the head of the valley: once struggling through the snow to the Otome Pass, on an immemorial and nearly perpendicular bridle path, and once by the modern road to the tunnel which, with characteristic address, the Japanese have bored through the rock, thus reducing a very steep gradient.

In the tunnel the icicles were hanging several feet long and as big as masts, and the air was biting. But one emerged suddenly upon a prospect the wonder of which probably cannot be excelled - a vast plain far below, made up of verdure and villages and lakes, with distant surrounding heights, and immediately in front, filling half the sky, Fuji himself. It is from this point, and from the ancient Otome Pass, a mile or so away on the same ridge, that the symmetry of the mountain is most perfect; and here one can best appreciate the simplicity of it, the quiet natural ease with which it rises above its neighbours. There was more snow on the slopes than when I had seen it from the train a few days before; and the sky again was without a cloud. I have never been so conscious of majestic serenity, without any concomitant feeling of awe. Fuji is both sublime and human.

No other country has a symbol like this. When the Japanese think of Japan they visualise Fuji: returning exiles crowd the decks for the first glimpse of it; departing exiles with tears in their eyes watch it disappear. There is not a shop window but has Fuji in some representation; it is found in every house; its contours are engraved on teaspoons, embossed on ash-trays. You cannot escape from its counterfeits; but if you have seen it you do not mind.

When on my way home I found myself in an American picture gallery, either in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston or New York, I lingered longest in the rooms where the coloured prints of the Japanese masters hang - and America has very fine collections, particularly in Boston - and I stood longest before those landscapes by Hokusai and Hiroshige in which Fuji occurs. Hokusai in particular venerated the mountain, and in many of his most beautiful pictures people are calling to each other to admire some new and marvellous aspect of it. It was he who drew Fuji as seen through the arch of a breaking wave! I was looking at the British Museum's example of this daring print only a few days ago, and, doing so, living my Myanoshita days again.

There is much in Japan that is petty, much that is too material and not a little that is disturbing; but Fuji is there too, dominating all, calm and wise and lovely beyond description, and it would be Fuji that lured me back.