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One of the many objects to attract the eyes of one traveling in Japan is the “Torii” or sacred gateway. It is said that once a bird from Heaven flew down and alighted upon the earth. Here the first gate was erected, the gate of heaven. Its construction, whether it be of wood, stone or metal, is ever the same, two columns slightly inclined toward each other, supporting a horizontal cross-beam with widely projecting ends, and beneath this another beam with its ends fitted into the columns; the whole forming a singularly graceful construction, illustrating how the Japanese produce the best effects with the simplest means. This sacred entrance arches the path wherever any Japanese foot approaches hallowed ground. It is, however, over all consecrated portals and lands, and does not necessarily indicate the nearness of a temple. You find it everywhere in your wanderings, over hill and dale, at the entrance to mountain paths, or deep in the recesses of the woods, sometimes it is on the edge of an oasis of shrubbery, or in the very heart of the rice fields, sometimes in front of cliff or cavern. Pass under its arch and follow the path it indicates and you will reach it may be by a few steps, it may be by a long walk or climb a temple sometimes, but more often a simple shrine; and if in this shrine you find nothing; close by you will see some reason for its being there. There will be a twisted pine or grove of stately trees, to consecrate the place and perpetuate some memory. Perhaps the way leads to the view of some magnificent panorama of land or sea spread out before the gazer who, with adoring heart, worships the beauty or the grandeur of his country. Wherever there is a Torii, there is a shrine of his religion; and wherever there is an outlook over the land of his birth, there is a temple of his faith.

As we left Nagasaki for Shanghai, I noticed on this occasion, as on four later visits, the great activity of this port as a coaling station. It has an immense trade. Men, women, and children form in line from the junk which is drawn alongside of our huge ships, and then pass baskets of coal from one to the other. Many of the women and girls have babies strapped on their backs, and there they stand in line for hours passing these baskets back and forth. As I was watching them one day, for I saw them loading many times, for some reason not apparent, they all pounced upon one small man, and, as I thought, kicked him to pieces with their heavy wooden shoes and strong feet. After five minutes of such pummeling, as I was looking for a few shreds of a flattened out Japanese, he arose, shook himself, got in line, and passed baskets as before.

One day from my comfortable bamboo chair I watched some coolies getting some immense timbers out of the bay near where I sat. It did not seem possible that these small men could manage those huge timbers, which were so slippery from lying in the water that they would often have to allow them to slip back, even after they had got them nearly on land. I expected every moment to see those poor creatures either plunge into the water themselves or be crushed by the weight of the heavy timbers; and while I watched for about two hours they must have taken out about twenty or thirty logs, twenty or twenty-five feet long and two feet through. I often watched the coolies unloading ships. Two of them would take six or eight trunks, bind them together, run a heavy bamboo pole through the knotted ends and away they would go. I never saw a single person carding what we, in America, pride ourselves so much on, “a full dinner pail.” They did not even seem to have the pail.

There are horses in Japan and they are poor specimens compared with the fine animals that we know. They are chiefly pack-horses, used in climbing over the mountains, consequently they go with their noses almost on the ground. Instead of iron shoes they have huge ones made of plaited straw. They are literally skin and bones, these poor beasts of burden.

Horses may be judged, in part, by the mouth; but the Japs may be wholly judged by the leg. It did distress me to ride after a pair of legs whose calves were abnormally large, whose varicose veins were swollen almost to bursting. As a rule, the men trot along with very little effort and, seemingly, have a very good time. They cheerfully play the part of both horseman and horse, of conductor, motineer and power.

I never could get used to the number of Jinrickshas drawn up in front of the railroad station, and as it is the only way to get about the country, I accepted it with as good a grace as I could. At a large station there may be hundreds of rickshaws and double hundreds of drivers, all clamoring as wildly as our most aggressive cabmen. They wave their hands frantically, crying, “Me speak English! Me speak English! Me speak English!”

They knew originally, or have learned of foreigners, how to cheat in Japan as elsewhere. One often needs to ask, “Is this real tortoise shell?” The answer, even if imitation, is “Now, this is good; this is without flaw.” I found it of great advantage, as far as possible, to keep the same men, and they became interested, not only in taking me to better places, but in assisting me in procuring articles, not only of the best value, but at Japanese prices. It is never best to purchase the first time you see anything, even if you want it very badly. I secured one Satsuma cup that has a thousand faces on it. It is very old, very wonderfully exact, and a work of very great art. It took me several days to purchase it, as the man was very loath to part with it, and at the end I got it for very much less than I was willing to give the first day.

They do not seem to have any day of rest all shops are open seven days of the week. All work goes on in the same unbroken round. Indeed, from the time I left San Francisco until my return, it was hard for me to “keep track” of Sunday, even with the almanac I carried; and when I did chase it down, I involuntarily exclaimed, “But today is Saturday at home; the Saturday crowds will parade the streets this evening; the churches will not be open until tomorrow morning.”

I learned here that the average wages of a laboring man, working from dawn to dark, is about seven cents a day of our money. The men do much of the menial service, much of the delicate work, too. The finest embroidery, with most intricate patterns and delicate tracings in white and colors, is done by men. Two will work at the frame, one putting the needle through on his side, and the other thrusting it back. In that way the embroideries are alike on both sides, except the work which is to be framed. They are so very industrious that they very rarely look up when anyone is examining their work.

As I was watching some glass blowers, the little son of one raised his eyes from the various intricate bulbs that he was handing to his father and gave him the wrong color. Without a word of warning the father gave him a severe stroke with the hot tube across the forehead, which left a welt the size of my finger. Without one cry of pain he immediately handed his father the correct tube and went on with his work as if nothing had happened. I had intended to buy that very article, but it would have meant to me the suffering it cost the child, and I would not have taken it if it had been given me.

Sanitary conditions, as far as I could judge, were bad. The houses, in the first place, are very small. I understand they are made small on account of earthquakes. It is said that the whole of Japan is in one quake all the time. They have shocks daily, hence, the houses are only one story high.

I attended an auction of one of the finest collections of works of art that had ever been placed before the public. The only way we could tell that many of these works were especially choice was by the number of elegantly dressed Japanese who were bending before them in admiration. One could see that, as a whole, it was a collection of rare things. The books and pictures were the most interesting. One picture, “White Chickens,” on white parchment was very artistic. It did not seen possible that these white feathered fowls could so nearly resemble the live birds in their various attitudes and sizes, for there were about twelve from the smallest chick to the largest crowing chanticleer of the barn yard. Another picture was of fish, which was so exact that one could almost vow that they were alive and ready to be caught. Indeed, one of the fish was on the end of the line with the hook in his mouth, and his resistance was seen from the captive head to the end of the little forked tail. They excel in birds, butterflies and flowers; and one knows the full meaning of the “Flowery Kingdom” of both China and Japan as one travels about. One sees in the public parks notices posted, “Strangers do not molest or capture the butterflies.” For nowhere, except in this Oriental country, are the butterflies so gorgeously magnificent.

Japan is truly a land of umbrellas and parasols. With frames made of the light, delicate bamboo, strands woven closely and then either covered with fine rice paper or silk, they are ready for rain or sunshine. They all carry them. The markets are the most attractive that one could imagine, but after hearing of the means used to enrich the soil, it is impossible to enjoy any fruit or vegetable. In all the towns are the native and the European quarters. In the latter one can have thoroughly good accommodations; the service and attendance are excellent.

At one place on the coast of Japan there is cormorant fishing. Men go in small boats with flaring torches, hundreds of them. The birds with their long bills reach down into the water and pick up a huge fish, then the master immediately takes it out of the bill, before it can be swallowed, and places it in his boat for market. These birds in a single evening get thousands of fish. I suppose they are rewarded at the end of their service by being allowed to fish for themselves.

Kite flying is a favorite pastime; the size, shape, and curious decorations are astonishing. They have fights with their kites up in the air, and there is just as much excitement over these kite games as we ever have over foot-ball. They go into paroxysms of joy when the favorite wins. There are singing kites and signal kites and a hundred other kinds.

I saw no children indulging in any games on the streets. As soon as they are able to carry or do anything at all they seem to be employed. I could not but think that most of the Japanese children are unhealthy. Every one of them had sore eyes. Small of statue, the children seemed too small to walk, and yet those that looked only seven or eight years old would, invariably, have each a baby strapped on his back, and the poor little creatures would go running about with the small human burdens dangling as they could.

There is one delightful thing about the people, as a whole, their attentive, courteous manners; their solicitude to assist you in whatever they can. They are a domestic and thrifty little race, the men doing by far the larger part of the work. The enormous burdens that these little mites of humanity can pick up and carry are an increasing wonder.

In visiting Japan, it is convenient to make Yokohama one’s headquarters for the northern part of the kingdom, Nagasaki for the southern part, and Kobe for the central part; and from these centers to take excursions to the various points of interest.

My first visit was brief, for I still clung to the Gaelic, moving when she moved, and stopping at her ports according to her schedule. But I returned and made a stay of many months, exploring at leisure the more important or attractive places. I have gathered together in this rambling account the various observations and impressions of these various visits, and have tried to unite them into one story.