In spite of Kyoto's eight hundred temples I could not get any but a materialistic concept of its inhabitants; and elsewhere this impression was emphasised. A stranger cannot, of course, know; he can but record his feelings, without claiming any authority for them. But I am sure I was never in a country where I perceived fewer indications of any spiritual life. Every one is busy; every one seems to be happy or at any rate not discontented; every one chatters and laughs and is, one feels, a fatalist. Sufficient unto the day! After all, it is the women of a nation that chiefly keep burning the sacred flame and pass it on; but in Japan, I understand, the women are far too busy in pleasing the men to have time for such duties; Japan is run by men for men. It is an unwritten law that a woman must never be anything but gay in her lord's presence, must never for a moment claim the privilege of peevishness.

As an instance of the Japanese woman's indifference to fate and readiness to oblige, I may say that we had on our ship two or three hundred girls in charge of a duenna or so, who were bound for Honolulu to be married to Japanese settlers there, to whom their photographs had been forwarded. These girls are known as "Picture Brides." At Honolulu their new proprietors awaited them, and I suppose identified and appropriated them, although to the European eye one face differed no whit from another.

The Japanese have the practical qualities that consort with materialism. They are quick to supply creature comforts; their hotels are well- managed; their cooks are excellent; their sign-posts are numerous and, I believe, very circumstantial; at the railway stations are lists of the show places in the neighbourhood; the telephone is general. But there are strange failings. The roads, for example, are often very bad, although so many motor-cars exist. Even in Tokio the puddles and mud are abominable. There is no fixed rule to force rickshaw men to carry bells. There is no rule of the road at all, so that the driver of a vehicle must be doubly alert, having to make up his mind not only as to what he is going to do himself, but also what the approaching driver is probably going to do. From time to time, I believe, a rule of the road has been tried, but it has always broken down.

The rickshaw bells are the more important, because the Japanese are not observant. They may see Fuji and stand for hours worshipping a spray of cherry blossom, but they do not see what is coming. Normally they look down.

The rickshaw is comfortable and speedy; but to be drawn about by a fellow-creature is a humiliating experience and I never ceased to feel too conspicuous and ashamed. I discovered also how easy it is to lose one's temper with these men. I used to sit and wonder if there had ever been a runaway, and I never hired a rickshaw without thinking of Mr. Anstey's story of the talking horse.