Lafcadio Hearn.

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CASE






LAFCAD1O HEARN

DIARIES & LETTERS

TRANSLATED AND ANNOTATED

BY

Prof. R. TANABE




1920
HOKUSEIDO

TOKYO




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1. One of Cleopatra's Nights, and other

Romances OHPF)

2. St. ives from Strange Literature
Gombo Zhebes

4. The Temptation of St. Anthony (HPP)

5. Some Chinese Ghosts

6. Chita : A Memory of Last Island

7. Karma

8. Youma. The Story of a West Indian

ive

9. Two Years in the French West Indies

10. The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (fti?)

1 1 . Dairy of an Impressionist

i 2. Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan 2 vols.
13. Out of the East

Kokoro

15. Gleanings in Buddha-Fields
\r>. l ; xotics and Retrospectives
i 7. In Ghostly Japan

1 8. Shadowings

19. A Japanese Miscellany

20. Japanese Fairy Tales

21. Kotto



22. Kwaidan

23. Japan : An Attempt at Interpretation

24. The Romance of the Milky Way and

other Studies and Stories

25. Interpretations of Literature 2 vols.

26. Appreciation of Poetry

27. Life and Literature



12. Glimpses J; $ 24. The Milky Way

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I. From the Diary of an English Teacher
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Glimpses O^n^RMi: 5o ^ J ^ 7'-t *

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II. With Kyushu Students



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I. From the Diary of an English
Teacher



II. With Kyushu Students(^#|f|^ ) 248



III. Letters -
ToOchiai






To Basil Hall Chamberlain (^<*

*-^^f-3s A^IX >/^^) 370






Every day has its revelations. What teem to be moun-
tains turn out to be only clouds ; the horizon forever recedes.
Of Japan, I would say with Kipling's pilot : " And if any
man comes to you, and says, ' I know the Javva currents,* don't
you listen to him ; for those current! is never yet known to
mortal man ! "

To estimate the Japanese student by his errors, his failures,
his incapacity to comprehend sentiments and ideas alien to the
experience of his race, is the mistake of the shallow: to jud-c
him tightly one must have learned to know the silent moral
heroism of which he is capable.

Lafcadio II-




FROM THE DIARY OF AN ENGLISH
TEACHER.

I

MATSUE, September, 2, 1890.1

AM under contract to serve
as English teacher in the Jin
jo Chugakko, 2 or Ordinary
Middle School, and also in
the Shihan-Gakko, or Normal
School, of Matsue, Izumo, for the term 3 of one
year.

The Jinjo Chugakko is an immense
two-storey 4 wooden building in European style,
painted a dark grey-blue. It has accommo-
dation 5 for nearly three hundred day-scholars.
It is situated in one corner of a great square
of ground, bounded 7 on two sides by canals,



i. 1890



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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 1 upon its
summit. There are only about one hundred
and fifty students 2 in the Shihan-Gakko, but
they are boarders. 3

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, 4 the Japanese teacher of English, has
taken me through the buildings, introduced me
to. the Directors, and to all my future collea-
gues, given me all necessary instructions about
hours and about text-books, and furnished my
desk with all things necessary. Before teach-
ing begins, however, I must be introduced to



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the Governor of the Province, Koteda Yasu-
sada, 1 with whom my contract has been made,
through the medium of his secretary. 2 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 stainvay, and
enter a spacious room carpeted in European
fashion, a room with bay 3 windows and cush-
ioned chairs. One person is seated at a small
round table, and about him are standing half
a dozen others : all are in full 4 Japanese
costume, ceremonial costume, splendid silken
hakama, or 5 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



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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 1 in a
mellow basso. 2 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 Nishi-

da, "if you know the old history of Izumo."

f - I reply that I have read the Kojiki, trans-

lated by Professor Chamberlain, and have

therefore some knowledge of the story of



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Japan's most ancient province. Some con-
verse 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 tradi-
tions of Izunio. The Governor suggests that
I make visits to the cerebrated shrines of
Kuzuki, 1 Yaegaki, 2 and Kumano, 3 and then
asks :

" Does he 4 know the tradition of the
or gin of the clapping of hands before a Shinto

shrine?"



I reply in the negative ; and the Govern-
or says the tradition is given in a commentary 5
upon the Kojiki.

" It is in the thirty-second section of the
foutteenth 6 volume, where it is written that
Ya-he-Koto-Shiro-nushino-Kami clapped his
hands/ 1



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I thank the Governor for his kind sugges -
tions and his citation. 1 After a brief silence I
am graciously dismissed 2 with another genuine
haad-grasj) ; and we return to the school.



[ft] I. citation



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II

T HAVE been teaching for three
hours in the Middle School,
and teaching Japanese boys
turns out 1 to be a much. more
agreeable task than I had
imagined. Each class has been so well pre-
pared for me beforehand by Nishida that my
utter ignorance of Japanese makes no
difficulty in regard to teaching : more-
over, although the lads cannot understand
my words always when I speak, they
can understand whatever I write upon the
bl ckboard 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. 2



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Nishida is only too 1 kind. He helps n e
in every way he possibly can, and is constant-
ly regretting that he cannot help me mere.
There are, of course, some difficulties to over-
come. For instance, it will take me a very,
very long time to learn the names of the boys,
most of which 2 names I cannot even pro-
nounce, with the class-roll before m\ / nd
although the names of the different chsses
have been painted" upon the doors of their
respective 4 rooms in English letters, for the
benefit of the foreign teacher, it \\ill take me
some weeks at least to become quite familiar
with them. For the time being 5 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 6 who is to act there as my
guide.

I have b:en engaged to teach only four



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name?, t'. ore names. 3. painted /* y % ~Q jb



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t^mes a week at the Normal School ; but I am
furnished there .also with a handsome desk in
the teachers 1 apartment, and am made to feel
at home 1 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 2 room full of young men in dark
blue military uniform. Each sits at a very
small desk, supported by a single leg, with
three feet. At the end of the room is a plat-
form 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 f" And
all rise with a springy 3 movement as if moved
by machinery. " Bow down ! " the same
voice again commands, the voice of a yourg
student wearing a captain's stripes* upon his



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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, 01 ly the command is given
in Japanese. For my sake only, it is given in
English.



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34 C-




Ill

September 22, 1890.

HE Normal School is a
State institution. 1 Students
are admitted upon examina-
tion and production of testi-
mony 2 as to good character ;
but the number is, of course, limited. The
you g men pay no fees, no boarding-money,
nothing even for books, college-outfits, 3 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 exami-
nation marks must leave the school, however



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exemplary their conduct or earnest their study*
No leniency can be shown where the educa-
tional nce/!s of the State are concerned, 1 and
these call for natural ability and a high stand-
ard of its proof. 2

The discipline is military ancl 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 : 3
lie leaves college a trained soldier. Deport-
ment is also a requisite : special marks are
given for it ; and however gawky 4 a freshman 3
may prove at the time of his admission, he
cannot remain so. A spirit of manliness is
cultivated, vvhich excludes roughness but deve-
lops self-reliance and self-control. The stu-
dent is required^ when speakingj to look his
teacher in the face, and to utter his words not
only distinctly, but sonorously. Demeanour



t!] i are concerned iOHlS? *ffi"CUo 2 ' lhese caU

for na'ural ability artel a high standard of its proof, these the
'educa'ional needs, call for = demand 3>R~f % its proof < <7)



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in class is partly enforced by the class-room
fittings themselves. The tiny tables are too
narrow to allow of being used as supports lor
the elbows ; the seats have no backs against
which to lean, and the student must hold him-
self rigidly erect as lie studies. He must also
keep himself faultlessly 1 neat and clean.
Whenever and wherever he encounters one of
his teachers he must halt, bring his feet to-
gether, draw himself erect, and give the mili-
tary salute. And this is done with a swift
grace difficult to describe.

The demeanour of a "class during study
hours is if anything 2 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 starling by contrast with the still-
ness and self-repression of the others.



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The female department of the Normal
School, where about fifty young women are
being trained as teachers, is a separate two-
storey quadrangle 1 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
J ipanese arts, the arts of embroidery, of de-
coration, of painting, and of arranging flowers.
European drawing is also taught, and beauti-
fully taught, not only here, but in all the
schools. It is taught, however, in combination
with Japanese methods ; and the results of this
bidding 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 Euro-
pean students. The soul of the race is essen-



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tially artistic ; and the extremely difficult art
of learning to write the Chinese characters, in
which all are trainee! 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. 2

Attached to the great Normal School, and
connected by a corridor with the Jinjo Chu-
gakko 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 pro-
fession 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 teach-
ing. 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

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you would think they were trying to make
still blacker by energetic us.e oi writing-brush-
es 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. 1 Long before the first lesson is
thoroughly mastered, the white paper has be-
come all evenly black under the multitude of
tyro 2 brush-strokes. But the same sheet is
still used ; for the \vet 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 scis
sors, which, being formed in one piece, shaped
something like the letter U, are much le's easy
to manage than ours. The little folk, are
being taught to cut out patterns, and shapes



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34

of special objects or symbols to be studied.
Flower-forms are the most ordinary patterns ;
sometimes certain ideographs 1 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 gayo wci)
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 memo-
ry : Auld Lang Sync!'

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 addi-
tion to their robes, the girls wear hakama,



[ft] I- ideographs ^.

2 - lwo Dative songs set to Scotch airs * ri !> h 7



tt|t .-'uM Lang Syne



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- 36 -

and these are of a vivid, warm sky-Hue. 1

Between the hours of teaching, ten minu-
tes are allowed for play or rest. The little
boys play at Demon-Shadows 2 or at blind-
man's-buff or at some other funny game : they
laugh, leap, shout, race, and wrestle, but, un-
like European children, never quarrel or fight. 3
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, accompa-
nied by song. Indescribably soft and sweet
the chorus of those little voices in the round.

Kango-kango sho-ya,
Naka yoni skd~ya t
Don-don to kuncte
fizo-San no midzu wo
Matsuba no midzu irefe,
Makkuri kaeso?



I. warm sky-blue. |=HO^T^, Kfc*l- IfcfMr warm,
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I notice that the young men, as well as
the young women, who teach these little folk,
are extremely tender to their charges. 1 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 ele-
mentary school, the girl students of the Shi-
han-Gakko are also trained to teach in the
neighbouring Kindergarten. A delightful Kin-
dergarten it is, with big cheerful sunny rooms,
where stocks of the most ingenious education-
al toys are piled upon shelves for daily use.



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Kindergarten = Garden of children,



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IV



October I, 1890.




1VTEVERTHLESS I am destined
to see little of the Normal
School. Strictly speaking, I
do not belong to its staff: 1
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 1 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," 2 for in Japan
the teacher has no need of being masterful.} 3



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42

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 tab-
lets, 2 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 in-
genious tablet arrangement any change of
hours can be represented by simply changing
the places of the tablets, As all this is writ-
ten in. Chinese and Japanese characters, it
remains to me a mystery, except in so far as
the general plan and purpose are concerned. 3



I. dingy f:?;iN KtiltCo 2 - lacquered wooden tablets.

U 4>/;'o 3- so far as ...... are concerned



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44

I have learned only to recognise the letters of
my own name, and the simpler form oi
nun erals.

On every teacher's desk there is a small
hibachi of glazed 1 blue-and-white ware, contain-
ing 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 with-
in 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.



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October 15, 1890.

npO-DAY I witnessed the annual
athletic contests (undo-kwai]
of all the schools in Shimane
Ken. 1 These games were
celebrated in the broad castle
grounds of Ninomaru. Yesterday a circular
race-track had been staked off, 2 hurdles 3 erect-
ed for leaping, thousands of wooden seats
prepared for invited or privileged spectators, 4
and a grand lodge 5 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, 6 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



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Online LibraryLafcadio HearnDiaries & letters; → online text (page 1 of 9)