like mind with himself. We shall read his missive,
remembering that a Japanese begins at the begin-
ing, without preface, and puts all address, date, and
signature at the end.
The weather is becoming very hot, the frequent showers
and great heat are making the farmers' fields bright and
green, and already the new rice is transplanted and is about
six inches high.
I trust you will be careful during this season of the
"great heat" not to over-study or expose yourself to the
I left Fukui suddenly without being able to say good-by,
and set out over the Eastern Sea Road, hoping to accom-
plish my purpose against the hairy barbarians and defilers
of our land of the holy ones ; but heaven has spread the net
of destiny against me, and held me for the present as help-
less as a fly in a spider's web. I wait my further opportu-
nity, for I hear that the barbarians' black ships are to return
again next year.
I trust you are keeping up your studies in history as well
as in fencing and riding. I shall never forget my last visit
to you when I found you in tears over your book. You
were weeping over the loss of the imperial power at the
hands of the Ashikaga usurpersr Yet the Son of Heaven,
our Mikado, suffered not only during the middle ages, but
even now is insulted and degraded by the treachery of
wicked rulers in Yedo. I think Rai Sanyo's " External
History" is a wonderful book and is steadily educating
the samurai of Japan to their duty.
THE LIFE OF A ftONIN. 191
I have no doubt that the cowards at Yedo will truckle
with the American barbarians, and make a treaty with them
and allow them to trade instead of driving them off. We
are well able to defy them. When was the sword of Japan
unable to cope with enemies? I predict that, if a treaty is
made, thousands of samurai will become ronin, and the cry
of "Drive out the barbarians I " will be raised all over the
On my journey here, almost as soon as my foot touched
the East Sea Road I was so fortunate as to meet a samurai
who was journeying eastward. I found he was no less
than Ban Saburo, a relative of the great historian whose
books we are all reading. I was overjoyed at the honor of
being allowed to travel with him. We had a delightful
time in comparing notes. He is full of hatred to Tokugawa
and the counterfeit government at Yedo, and is on fire with
reverence to the Mikado.
One adventure I must tell you about, to show that oppor-
tunities for gratifying our hatred of Tokugawa and of hon-
oring the Mikado are not wanting. We passed a Buddhist
temple a day or two ago in which was a beautifully carved
wooden statue of Ashikaga the Third, who lived, you re-
member, nearly five hundred years ago, and accepted the
hateful title of "king" from China, thus insulting our
Mikado. Ban, happening to see it, and finding no one near,
drew his sword and sliced the face of the wooden image,
leaving only an oval of whitish pine instead of a visage.
He then spat upon the wooden face and pitched it into a
hole near by.
Yesterday we walked up the mountain and visited Kuno
temple; there we were closely watched, for one of the
priests overheard Ban imprudently say :
" Ah, nest of robbers! Look at all this splendor and ex-
travagance! The Tokugawas press out the fat and blood
of the provinces to build such palaces as these."
On coming out he saw at some distance from the temple
a stone lantern with the golden trefoil- of asaruin leaves
192 HONDA THE SAMU&A1.
carved over it. Tumbling it over with a push, he jumped
and stamped on the crest with delight and rubbed off the
gold with a rough stone.
I have found that my companion is not very wise, and is
even more radical than I am. We shall have to leave Fu-chiu
to-day, as the officers will get word of the insult to the To-
kugawa crest and be after us as the offenders. From here
we shall visit Kamakura, the cursed place where Yoritomo
and the first usurpers of the Mikado's power fixed their
seat of government, and where the Genji, Hojo, and Ashi-
kaga lines held power. We shall worship at the shrine of
Nitta, that brave and loyal soul who shed the blood of his
loyal heart for the emperor near our native city of Fukui.
Please lay a fresh flower on his tomb for me when you
again visit it, as I know you do weekly. While persever-
ing in your art studies do not forget the reading of histo-
ries such as Mito's and Rai Sanyo's.
From HONDA Jmo, Fu-chiu, Tsuruga.
To OIWA SAMRO, Fukui, Echizen.
Ka-yei, 5th year, 6th month, oth day.
Inn of the Thousand Cranes with Golden Tags.
Three days' leisurely travel brought them to the
famous hot springs in a pretty hamlet in the heart
of the Hakone* mountains, named " Beneath the
Shrine (Miyanoshita)." Here they rested two days,
amusing themselves by enjoying the baths, in read-
ing the adventures of two pedestrian travelers, in a
funny book entitled " Shank's Mare on the Eastern
Sea Road," and in visiting the famous places near
by. In one of their excursions they came to a cave
which was a resort of pilgrims and very sacred in the
eyes of the people.
" Let us go in and see what the boors find to feed
their superstition," said Ban.
THE LIFE OF A RONItf. 193
" Only a Buddha, I presume," said Honda, who, as
he entered, saw in the twilight what he supposed to
be only one of the common images of the infant
Buddha and his mother.
" Not so ! " roared Ban, seeming livid with rage,
and looking round as if for a missile.
" What 's the matter ? " cried Honda, surprised.
" Kirishitan ! Kirishitaii ! Look at it again. See !
It's Yasu and his mother!" angrily answered Ban
as he picked up a rock and hurled it at the image,
knocking it over.
" Wait till I examine it ! " cried Honda, as Ban
was about to throw the heavy stone against it to
break off the head of the fallen image.
" Don't you see ? Look again at that, and that ! "
True enough, it was an image of the Virgin Mary
and the child Jesus copied from some European
model, but done by a native stone-cutter. In a word,
it was a relic of the seventeenth century, when the
Portuguese Roman Catholic missionaries traversed
Japan, and thousands of churches, under the sign
of the cross, gathered multitudes at the altar to
pray through the Virgin's intercession to Christ and
the Father. Either hurried away into the cave for
safety during times of persecution, or chiseled espe-
cially for this secret place of worship, the image had
stood until the last Christian had gone into exile or
died; and the forgotten image was mistaken by
native Buddhists for an idol of the Buddha and his
Honda saw that the cross-shaped halos on the
194 HONDA THE SAMURAL
head, the carved heart with blazing fire visible on
the outside of the mother's breast, and some minor
details were rather un- Japanese. He had not much
time to look, for Ban, in fiery rage, rapidly demol-
ished it and stamped the pieces into the earth.
" How wonderful it seems," said Ban, " that the
Jesus superstition, the worship of a criminal God,
lingers so long in the honorable country ! Even yet,
at Osaka, but more especially around Nagasaki, there
are, as I suspect, hundreds of farmers who follow
the European superstition."
" What ! Why, I thought the corrupt sect was
stamped out long ago ! The Buddhists in Echizen
have long since, even in my grandfather's day, given
up their annual visitation of families to see if any
Kirishitans remained. In Tsuruga, where, as I am
told, there were more believers in Yasu, it is now
only a mere form."
" Well, it ought to be kept up yet as it is near
Nagasaki, where they still observe the custom of
fumi-y (cross-trampling) ."
" Fumi-ye* what is that?" asked Honda.
" Never had it in Echizen ? Well, a copper plate
with a figure of the Kirishitan criminal god Yasu on
the cross, the sign of the wicked religion, is set into
the ground, and every man, woman, and child in the
villages is compelled to walk over and trample upon
it. Any one objecting or not vigorously stamping it
is arrested and tried for treason."
" And this custom is still kept up ? "
" Yes. I saw it performed when at Nagasaki two
"Given our signature that we are not Christians." See page 194.
THE LIFE OF A RON1N. 195
"Did any one flinch?"
" None that I saw ; but in previous years, when
some of the same Kirishitan sect from Corea fled to
our country, a number of the people refused to tread
on the plate and were imprisoned. I have heard
also that lately some of the villagers near the city
avoid going under the Shinto temple gates, which is
not a good sign."
Emerging from the cave, the two travelers re-
turned to their inn, paid their bills, and set out over
the Hakon mountains for Kamakura. Here they
spent a day visiting the renowned shrines and tem-
ples, especially that of Hachiman, the tombs of Yori-
tomo and other heroes, and in looking at the his-
torical relics preserved in the museum. Among these
were a He'ik^ red banner made of bamboo thread, a
war-coat of Yoritomo, a drum belonging to Nitta,
besides masks, carvings, and weapons. They also
studied carefully the strategic position of the place
which for nearly four hundred years had been a great
city, and the chief seat of military power in Japan.
Honda's eyes danced with delight and his heart was
full as he traced the path of his hero Nitta's valor,
and walked over the ground on which he had once
stood, when in the year 1333 A.D., as a loyal soldier
of the Mikado, fighting- to restore the Mikado to
supreme rights and power, he had stormed Kama-
kura and captured it from the Hojo usurpers. On
the night before the attack, when the fortified hills
and cliffs at the point of laud called Inamura Saki
and the fleets of war-junks on the water seemed to
196 HONDA THE SAMUEAI.
mean defeat, he climbed the cliff and, invoking the
sea-god Kompira, flung his sword into the sea. The
next morning the tide receded and left a dry space
on the sands, and Nitta and his army marched for-
ward, and after prodigies of valor captured the city
and burned it. The most splendid architecture and
treasures of art disappeared in smoke and ashes
and the glory of the Hojo was a dream of the past.
Rice-fields now cover what were once wide streets
thickly built up and the village is only a shadowy
fragment of former glory. The great bronze image of
Buddha fifty feet high, unmoved by fire, lightning,
typhoon, or tidal wave or war, still rises serenely
over the landscape. Where spear and arrow makers
lived, and sword-forgers and armorers dwelt by hun-
dreds, are. now only peaceable farmers. The hawk
and crow flew over the ruins of gateways whence
had issued lords and ladies, the processional splen-
dors of feudalism, the smart hawking parties with
relays of falcons, or the great train of hunters which
Yoritomo led to the side of Mount Fuji to afford
to his warriors in peace the discipline and excite-
ment of war.
The two travelers on the way to Kamakura had
also spent some hours at the lovely island of Eno-
shima, entering the cavern of Benten, feeing the
fisher-boys who dived for coins and haliotis shells,
and enjoying the superb scenery. At the inn of
Kamakura, Ban read from a book which he found in
the house a book, by the way, which had on it
the stamp in red ink of the famous old library which
THE LIFE OF A BONIN. 197
once, centuries ago in the times of the Ashikaga
tycoons, existed in the place the story of Benten,
and "The Birth out of the Sea of the Beautiful
FROM KAMAKUBA TO YEDO.
SINCE the year 1192 Japan may be said to have
had two kio, or capitals, one in the east and
one in the west. In the western city of Kyoto were
the emperor and the throne ; in the eastern city the
general and the camp. In one were honor and dig-
nity ; in the other, sword and purse. The empire
was divided into East and West, the division line
being at the barrier gate of Ze'ze', a little town at
the foot of Lake Biwa.
The eastern cities were, successively, Kamakura,
Odawara, and Yedo. Yet none of these head-quar-
ters of government on the Gulf of Yedo was ever
called To-Kio, or eastern capital, but only To-do,
or eastern city.
Our two pedestrians, setting out from Kamakura
to Yedo, made a two days' trip of it, because time
was of no special value, and besides they wanted
to enjoy the scenery. Clocks and watches had not
yet come into fashion, and the common people had
no familiar word for any period less than an hour.
At noon of the first day they lunched at a vil-
lage on the hill from which they could overlook
many leagues of blue sea.
" This is the fir-tree under which our great painter
FROM KAMAKUBA TO YEDO. 199
Longslope sat to paint this sky and land and water
picture," said Ban.
" I do not wonder that he threw away his brush
in despair, so that this tree is called ' Throw-away-
the-Pencil Pine," said Honda. "No drawings or
color do it justice."
Far away on the golden rim of the horizon rose
the glorious blue mass of the mighty island Oshi-
ma. The tops of the white swelling sails of junks
emerged from the world below to move up the bay
to Yedo. Hundreds of vessels laden with southern
produce bent their large, square sails of matting
to the breeze. Far beneath in the crawling waves
near the shore the fisher-folk gathered sea-weed.
The salt-makers, mostly merry girls with skirts
tucked up and each with a pair of buckets slung
on a neck-yoke, rushed out into the water. Gayly
singing they scooped up the brine and dexterously
showered it over the evaporating beds of hot sand.
Fishermen out in their boats flecking the blue,
millions of rice-fields checkering the leveled and
irrigated soil, temples with sweeping recurved
roofs and white gables, pagodas peeping amid the
evergreens, and many another sign of human art
and industry made a beautiful landscape, over
which towered the lordly mountain to which the
lesser chains of hills seemed to do homage.
Evening with its purple shadows and opal tints
brought them to a miserable little village of farmers
and fishermen, named Chestnut Beach (Kurihama).
Probably six hundred persons lived on the flat land
200 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
at the base of a line of bluffs. The long wooden
house with its peaked roofs, erected by the Yedo
government for the reception of President Fillmore's
letter at the hands of Commodore Perry, was still
standing. Compared with the straw-thatched cot-
tages of bamboo plastered with mud, it appeared
like a palace amid shanties.
"It looks like a fox's tea-bag [large mushroom]
beside a row of little toadstools, does n't it ? " said
" Yes ; how I should like to burn it to-night ! " said
Ban. "But I suppose we should be in a trap, for
the place has a guard, I see."
True indeed, for all around the new building, made
of unpainted wood, but a work of fine carpentering,
there was stretched a purple curtain of bunting about
six feet high. By the large white crests or coats-of-
arms having the design of the moon floating on
silvery waves, Honda saw that the officers in charge
and the men temporarily on guard belonged to the
southern clan of Kuroda. This particular kind of
curtain signified government property and business.
The crests or armorial bearings might, at a distance
from shipboard, look like the port-holes or embras-
ures of a fortification. At first the Americans
thought that the Japanese, as was alleged of the
Chinese, built canvas forts to scare off enemies.
As this military curtain was from ancient times
the sign of military occupation or business, the
government of Yedo, or the camp, was called the
bakufu, or curtain government.
FEOM KAMAKURA TO YEDO. 201
"We should be safer to let such wild schemes
alone, friend Ban," said Honda; "and if we want
to overthrow the bakufu and restore our Mikado
to his ancient power, we must have more patience."
" You are right, comrade. And now, what say
you to a moonlight sail to Kanagawa?"
The plan was a welcome one, for it was the night
for full moon. After an hour's ride over the silvery
waves and past Yokohama, then an obscure hamlet,
rest was enjoyed in Kanagawa at the inn of " The
Crystal and the Dragon."
Instead of going to bed, the bed came to them.
The rosy-cheeked maids opened a cuddy, rolled out
the padded quilts which served for mattresses, laid
on them the wrappers or coat-like coverlets, and then
prepared the pillows. These were blocks of wood
shaped like bricks. They stood on edge with a
groove on the top large enough to fit a fair-sized
Bologna sausage. The bolster was a little muslin
bag stuffed with rice-chaff and fitting into the groove.
Around this the maids rolled a clean sheet of white
mulberry-bark paper, and tying it on the block by
the string running through the hole in the center of
the wood, there was, presto ! a clean pillow-case. On
this pillow the Japanese gentleman with a top-knot,
and the lady with carefully built hair-architecture,
could rest two or three inches of skull and save
their hair-dressing, so that once a week was enough
to submit to the barber. After a hot bath and good-
night the paper sliding screens were drawn and the
two gentlemen lay down to sleep, Honda to rest
202 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
dreamlessly, but Ban to dream of riding on a
dragon's back over the top of Fuji San, and of
falling off and into his father's garden-hedge near
Kyoto. Waking up he found his head off the pil-
low. Replacing it on the little bolster, he slept
soundly till morning.
After a breakfast of tea, rice, black beans, and
broiled fish well flavored with soy, they stepped out
on the Tokaido. Not far from the inn they passed
the supposed grave of the Japanese Rip Van Win-
kle. Every child within the four seas of Nippon
knows the story. A fisher-boy named Urashima
Taro once went out to fish alone on the ocean.
During three days and nights he caught nothing,
but while wet and hungry he caught a turtle, which
begged for its life. Hungry as he was, Taro did not
kill it, but laid it in the bottom of the boat and fell
asleep. The turtle then changed itself into a lovely
maiden, and when Taro awoke he instantly fell in
love with her, though afraid to tell her so. She told
him she was the daughter of the king of the world
under the sea, and if he would vow to take her as
his wife she would take him to her father's palace,
feast him, give him all joys and comforts, and always
be faithful to him. She told him to close his eyes.
When he opened them he was in a world of dazzling
beauty, full of gold, silver, coral, gems, and things
unspeakably beautiful. He sat down to a splendid
banquet with the lords and ladies of the beautiful
palace, and there were dancing and music.
Taro so far forgot his own country and people
FROM KAMAKURA TO YEDO. 203
that he lived in constant pleasure during three
years. At the end of that time he wanted to visit
his old parents. The princess, his wife, gave him a
box and charged him never to open it, but when he
wanted to come back to her to hold it and wish
himself with her again. Getting into his boat once
more he shut his eyes, and when he opened them he
was near his native village. He stepped ashore, but
he knew none of the people nor did they know him.
The children laughed and the dogs barked at him.
Inquiring of an old man where the family of Ura-
shirna dwelt, the aged villager replied, "What a
strange question! Whence do you come? I have
indeed heard from old people that seven generations
ago a family named Urashima did live in this village.
Their son sailed out to sea alone and never came
back ; but that was three hundred years now gone.
Their house crumbled to pieces long ago."
At this Taro felt sick and unutterably lonely. He
went out to the village graveyard to look at the
moss-covered stones set over the ashes of the dead.
There he brooded for days over his disappointment,
thinking of his sweet princess in the under -sea
world, but forgetful of her orders he opened the
casket. Only a purple vapor floated out; but in-
stantly Taro felt the stiffness of old age, his hair
became as white as snow, and after a few hours of
decrepitude and wretchedness he fell dead.
" What is Urashima's grave doing here ? " asked
Honda. "As they tell the story in my province,
the fisher-boy was a native of Tango, whose prom-
204 SONDA T3E SAMUHAL
ontory on fair days we see just west of us. I Ve
often looked at the place. It is near the Bridge of
" The Bridge of Heaven ! What do you mean ? "
" Oh, the floating Bridge of Heaven, on which
Izanagi, the first god, stood when he looked down
on chaos, and stirring it up with his jeweled spear,
created the earth. Afterwards the bridge fell down,
and it still lies off Tango."
" Oh, yes, of course," said Ban. " I remember it
is the great line of narrow rocks running out into
the sea, and one of the three greatest natural won-
ders in all the empire. But as for Urashima, the
tradition goes that he was a native of the prov-
ince of Musashi."
" Oh, then it is a local tradition, like our rivers
which do not have one name all aloog their course,
but are known by different names to the people who
live along their bankc."
"Yes; the story goes that when coming up in
Tango from the under-world he set out eastwards
to the home of his parents in this village, and at
the Hakon Mountains opened the forbidden box,
hobbled to this place, and here fell down dead."
" Well, our artists and bronze-smiths seem never
to tire of picturing him."
Passing on, Honda noticed that nearly every man
at work in the houses or fields, or traveling, had
the skirts of his coat tucked up behind into his
girdle, and he spoke of it to his companion.
" Oh, yes ; that is the Adzuma fashion. You will
FROM KAMAKUBA TO TEDO. 205
now see many curious eastern customs and hear
many eastern expressions. Did you know that peo-
ple here call the American foreigners ' eastern
men,' or ' Chinese ' ? It is curious, since the Amer-
icans come from the far west; but I suppose that
to the common folks all foreigners look alike, just
because they are not Japanese."
" I shall be a Yedo man to-day," said Honda.
" This is my first visit, and I shall feel like a boor
from the rice-fields in the great city. I have heard
there are sharpers who take in the green fellows
from the provinces. I wonder if I shall find it true,
as the proverb says, ' There are boors even in the
" Capital ! " roared Ban, glaring at the speaker.
"Don't call Yedo the capital, even in jest. Yes;
you must look sharp for gamblers and thieves
The great To-kai-do, or Eastern Sea Road, was
gay with ten thousand travelers. They met two
long trains of daimios coming from Yedo, and had
to wait each time until the tedious procession passed ;
for to hurry past one made one liable to insult or
even arrest, while for a common person to cross the
line was sure death. The led-horses, palanquins,
umbrellas, baggage-boxes, gentlemen on horse and
foot, and long lines of retainers and porters made
waiting tedious. Contrasting frightfully with all this
glitter and shine were the foul and leprous beggars
at the place called " Rows of Trees." These filthy
creatures lived in abject misery in straw huts in the
206 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
meadows at the side of the road, in both winter and
summer. They were importunate in their cries for
"chabu, chahu" a low word for "grub," or food.
At River Point they turned aside to enjoy the
splendid carvings of dragons, flowers, and birds in
a shower, in one of the temples, and crossing the
river in a scow were soon within sight of the long,
straggling suburbs of the great city, and in front
of the execution-ground. This was on the left-hand
side of the road, an oblong embankment of earth
containing in the center a chi-tama, or blood-pit, at
the edge of which the victim to be decapitated knelt,
the swordsman standing behind him. A beam of
wood set upon two uprights constituted the pillory,
on which the heads were exposed, the trunk being
usually covered up in a straw bag. Executions
were of almost daily occurrence at this field of
blood, though there were others also on the great
highways leading into Yedo. Sometimes a row of
top-knotted heads lined the pillory. Set on a bed
of freshly mixed clay, they remained publicly ex-
posed during a period of from one to three days.
The old codes of law based on those of China, and
in force for nearly a thousand years in Japan, pre-
scribed death by the sword for no fewer than two
hundred and fifty offences.