THE HEART OF JAPAN
THE HEART OF JAPAN
GLIMPSES OF LIFE AND NATURE
FAR FROM THE TRAVELLERS' TRACK
IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN
CLARENCE LUDLOW BROWNELL
Fellow Royal Geographical Society
Fellow of the Society of Arts
Member of the Japan Society of London
McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO,
Copyright, 1903, by
McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.
Published, September, 1903, N
WE lived so far from the travellers' track in
Japan, often where no foreigner had been
before, and had seen and heard so much of
what seemed to us humorous, tragic, quaint, or thought-
worthy, that we dared to believe sometimes that we were
getting glimpses of the real inner spirit of the native
life a spirit far different from that of the tourist-worn
borders of this ancient and fascinating Land of the
Whether or not we are flattering ourselves unduly,
the five years that one of us spent in the interior of
Japan, sometimes teaching English in the Government
schools, sometimes idling, always living as the natives
live, were crowded with joyous entertainment.
In striving to reproduce some faint tint of this charm,
it seemed wisest to present each episode or impression sep-
arately here a personal experience, there a story heard
in some peasant's hut or among the temples, or from
some old warrior of the feudal days, and again a ven-
tured comment, picturing different phases of the life of
Japan, one after another, as on a screen seemingly de-
tached, perhaps, yet knit together by the underlying
desire to present the native point of view.
20 HANOVER SQUARE,
I. KONO HlTO AND THE PRAYER-PUMP, ... 3
II. O TOYO SAN 14
III. OUR LANDLORD, 19
IV. IN THE KINDERGARTEN DAYS 29
V. THE HONORABLE BATH, . . ' . . .43
VI. THE AUGUST DEPARTURE 50
VII. THE GUEST WHO COULD NOT Go, ... 56
VIII. THE OBEDIENT BED 61
IX. ONE WHO WON, 71
X. THINKING IN JAPANESE, 76
XI. Bo CHAN .88
XII. O Jo SAMA 100
XIII. HAPPY NEW YEAR, 113
XIV. THOSE WHO SIGN CHITS, 120
XV. THE CENSOR AND THE CRAFTY EDITOR, . . 126
XVI. BOBBY, .137
XVII. PLAYHOUSES, PLAYERS, AND PLAYS, . . .141
XVIII. "Music," 151
XIX. BLOSSOMS ALWAYS IN BLOOM, .... 157
XX. SIGNS OF THE TIMES 163
XXI. Bows AND BALLOTS, 171
XXII. THE FLOWERS OF TOKIO .175
XXIII. IN TRADE, . . 180
XXIV. DIVING BELLES, . . , . . . .193
XXV. AMONGST THE GODS, .'.... 200
XXVI. ON THE EARTHQUAKE PLAN, . . .212
MISSIONARIES AND MISSIONARIES, .
AND so HE BECAME A SAINT, . .
KADE AND THE REPEATERS, . .
. . 250
KADE WOULD ADVENTURE, . .
THE SPORTSMAN IN JAPAN, . .
. . 266
THE FATHER OP THE VILLAGE, . .
THE THEFT OF THE GOLDEN SCALE, .
THE REVERENCE OF KATO,
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Gardens of the Old Temple . . . Frontispiece
Itsukushima (or Miyajima), Aki . . . . .16
Nichiyobi was Our Home Day . . . . .56
Japanese Nurses Carry Babies on Their Backs . . 92
The Game of " Kitsune " Fox 96
" Kitsune Ken " 98
Japanese Girls at Home . . . . . .110
A Samurai with Prisoner . . . . . .138
In Japan Everyone is Always Entertaining Someone . 158
A Geisha 160
Signs of the Times . . . . . . .166
Pagoda at Temple Horuji, Nara . . . . .192
Goku Temple 200
The Gateway of the Miya, Shinto Temple . . .202
The Tera or Buddhist Temple ..... 204
The Famous Dragon Fountain ..... 206
Amida, the Buddha . .... 208
The Effects of an Earthquake 218
Here Hideyoshi, the Taiko, Drank His Tea . . . 240
The Old Stone Bridge 254
Night-fishing in Japan ...... 274
Temple of Kiyomidzu, Kiyoto ..... 284
THE HEART OF JAPAN
KONO HITO AND THE PRAYER-PUMP
GARDNER and I met Kono Hito the first time
we went up the west coast. He was the thriftiest
man in Japan. Even taken together we did not
compare with him in thrift.
He lived near a temple less than one hundred " ri "
from Kanazawa. If he had been farther from the tem-
ple he would have been just as close, but he might not
have discovered the fact to the world, nor have wasted
away on account of his unlovely trait.
Kono Hito was a farmer. Like most native farmers,
he raised rice. To do so he had to have water, and
plenty of it, enough to cover thousands of " tsubo," as
the Japanese say. (A " tsubo " is the size of two mats,
or thirty-six square feet.) He owned some fifty fields,
lying side by side. They were small and fenceless;
only low ridges of earth marked the boundaries of the
fields, and these ridges, when the rice had grown, were
lost to view. At the time of planting they would be
mushy, but at harvest time they would become dry and
hard, so that a man could walk along them easily if he
Kono's way of cultivating them was to throw seed
rice that is rice kernels in the shell over the surface
1 1 ri = about *2y 2 miles.
THE HEART OF JAPAN
of his ponds, where it sprouted, and wove into a tan-
gled mat of deep, rich green. When the rice blades
were six inches long, and had well-formed roots, he
would disentangle them, and, gathering them in clus-
ters, would plant them in the mud at two-foot intervals,
along rows two feet apart and parallel. This made the
rows regular, like the lines of a checker board, with a
bunch of rice wherever two lines crossed. The board
itself was all water at first, and had to remain water until
nearly time for harvest, for Kono Hito grew swamp rice
only. He said there was no money in upland rice. It
was too hard, and would not sell for the cost of grow-
A drought, therefore, was about as bad a thing as
could happen to Kono Hito. He must have water or go
to the money lenders, and once he went to them there
would be no end of going until they had possession of
his rice-fields. Kono Hito .knew the fate of borrowers
full well, and to save himself from such calamity he built
dams above his fields to make reservoirs, he dug ditches
from one field to the other, and he observed the Bud-
dhist fast days. In spite of all this, however, his crops
turned yellow earlier than those of his neighbor Sono
Hito, the rice grower on the opposite side of the road
a highway that passed between their paddy-fields and
led to the temple and beyond.
" Trouble indeed ! " said Kono Hito as he came along
this road in his jin-riki-sha one day. " What shall we
do? " But though he spoke to himself of trouble, and
asked himself how to avoid it, he did not talk out loud.
He sought to succeed by keeping more fast days, work-
ing harder in his fields, building tiny shrines, like dolls'
houses, at his reservoirs, and bringing the household
economy down to such a fine point that Okusama, his
wife, dared not lose so much as a grain of rice in a
month. But with all his prayers and his skimping, he
had not water enough. His fields were brown when Sono
Hito's were still green. Trouble indeed!
Sono Hito, the meanwhile, was not worrying. He was
a patriarch in the " Home of Happy Husbandmen," and
never had bad years, even though he kept few fasts and
was not more than half careful of his reservoirs.
A lot of folk worked for him, however, and with-
out knowing it, though they were glad in their uncon-
scious service. They were good Buddhists of the Hong-
wan ji sect, passing daily to the grand old temple over-
looking the sea. They offered alms to Amida, the
Buddha, and ere they offered they washed themselves,
as good folk do before they worship. Sono Hito, of
course, knew this, for he went himself to the temple
sometimes and took the preliminary bath just as the
others did. It was while he was taking one of these
baths that the idea which resulted in Kono Hito's
" trouble " had occurred to Sono Hito. This is the idea.
Sono's rice-fields reached quite up to the temple grove.
He would build a shrine in honor of the temple's god
a little this side of the gate of the temple, and near the
road. He would sink a well there. It would needs be
a deep well, it is true, but Sono's crops had been good
and he would not begrudge the cost. Having dug the
THE HEART OF JAPAN
well he would place a tablet before the shrine, bearing a
declaration of the dedication of his offering to the tem-
ple's god on behalf of those who worshiped there. He
would give each worshiper all the pure water he might
desire for a bath, and would not charge him for it. All
the worshiper need do would be to pump and help him-
self ! It was a grand scheme, such as only a man who
had seen the world could have evolved. Sono had been
He knew " Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hakodate, hai,"
personally, for he had been there. He had seen mis-
sionaries in Tokio and merchants in the treaty ports.
To one of the missionaries he owed his inspiration. The
reverend gentleman had shown him a praying water-
wheel from India. It was part of a collection the
learned preacher had gathered at various stations he had
occupied in the Far East. Sono Hito delighted in the
collection, but the praying-wheel pleased him most. If
he had had a place on his west coast rice-fields to set one
up he would have begged the missionary to get him one
from the ancient home of Buddhism.
Some days after he had seen this supplication-made-
simple apparatus, so much simpler than the man-power
prayer-wheels of the Tokio temples, Sono received an
invitation from one of the missionary's friends, a silk
merchant in Yokohama. This man wished to make ac-
quaintances on the west coast, especially in Fukui and
Kanagawa Kens, where the silkworms spin well. Sono,
always ready " to see the new thing," to learn some-
thing and to have a good time, took the train at Shim-
bashi station that afternoon, and within an hour was
at " Yama Namban," as the jin-riki-sha coolies called
the merchant's house.
Sono Hito had a wonderful time at this foreigner's
home. The foreign dainties, the bathroom with the
water-taps, the high bed, the cooking-stove with its
chimney, were marvelous to him, but the thing that
tickled him especially was what he called the " midzu-
age kikai," or water-raising machine, not far from the
kitchen door. He played with this a half-hour steadily,
until he was all of a sweat and had flooded his host's
back yard and turned the tennis-court into a soppy
Nothing would do but he must have one to operate
at his home over on the west coast, and as the kikai was
not in stock at any of the Yokohama agencies, Sono
Hito*s host promised to get one for him from San Fran-
" I'll send it over to you as soon as it arrives," said
Mo-Hitotsu- Smith San. (M. H. S. S. was the second
Smith to come to Yokohama after Perry's departure.
The first Smith was merely " Smith San," but the second
was Mo-Hitotsu-Smith San, i. e., more-one-Smith Mr.)
He did better than that, however, he took the apparatus
over himself three months later, and showed his Japanese
friend how to set it up and how he could use it to fill a
storage tank so as to have water for emergencies.
So Sono Hito had men dig the well wide and deep.
There was not such another well in that part of the coun-
try. Kono Hito, across the road, had nothing in the
THE HEART OF JAPAN
least comparable. He would not have spent so much
money on a well had he been never so rich, and in these
days he thought himself a very poor man indeed. It
grieved him to think that anything that cost money
should be necessary in his household. The sight of his
people eating made him ill, and the prosperity across the
road was like fire against his face. He could not endure
to look at it. But as Kono Hito suffered, Sono Hito
worked at his well shrine. The building was beautiful
in design as anything pertaining to Hongwanji would
be. Inside, over at one end, was a broad, shallow,
wooden tank for the bather to sit in, and, before the
tank, ample floor space, where the worshiper would have
room to use his scrubbing towel, such as all Japanese
carry with them. At the end opposite the tank was the
shrine, and beside the tank was a device strange to the
natives of the west coast. Sono called it a prayer-
machine. Over it was a panel bearing the Chinese in-
scription, " Bonno kuno " ("All lust is grief").
A Yankee would not have thought of prayer in con-
nection with this device. He would doubt if the Jap-
anese used water prayer-wheels, and would have said
simply " chain-pump." But one may assert with con-
siderable confidence that Yankee or other foreigner
never before had seen a chain-pump boxed in an image
of Buddha, with a third arm, in the shape of a crank,
reaching out from one side and projecting over a bath-
Sono Hito, however, knew all about the apparatus,
both from the Yankee and the west-coast view-point*
He was the only person who did; but, like Brer Rabbit,
" he wasn't saying nuffin'."
In fact, the two foreigners who did see this device
guessed right the very first time, like the young man
in the song, but they kept their thoughts to themselves.
Sono Hito might call it a prayer-machine, and each
bather as he sat in the tub might turn Buddha's third
arm with vigor and pray fervently, chanting his peti-
tions in unison with the rat-tat-rat-tat-tattle in Buddha's
stomach; to the Yankee's mind the thing would be a
It was soon after this visit of Mo-Hitotsu-Smith San
that the patriarch of the Home of Happy Husbandmen
had conceived his scheme of joining piety and prosperity
in happy combination by giving faithful Buddhists a
cataract bath free and a chance at the prayer-machine
thrown in. He had to explain his device, of course, for
it was such a noticeable innovation, so he told the village
folk that the ancient peoples of China and India had
used these machines with august results. He even
threw off his kimono, sat himself in the tub, and showed
them how, after pious revolutions, the Divine Pleasure
would give them water from above.
The idea pleased everyone, unless it were Kono Hito,
for Buddhists are partial to cataract baths. They take
them the year round, even in winter, though possibly
they do not enjoy them then, at least not with obvious
hilarity. In Tokio, the capital, in spite of its modern-
ization, the traveler sees native men and women standing
naked under a fall of water in some of the temple parks.
THE HEART OF JAPAN
In December and January this water is well down to
freezing point. The Japanese do this because they
know there is virtue in a cataract. Wherever a cataract
is, that place is sacred. If there is none folk often take
great pains to make artificial falls, especially in the
neighborhood of temples.
They are purifiers beyond all else, these " from-
heaven-descending " streams. Therefore, when Sono
San made his offer of a free bath a cataract bath!
something the region about the beloved temple had not
known since the "O joshin" (the great earthquake),
which, hundreds of years before, had broken up the
country, letting out the upper waters and ruining their
plans of hoty ablution he became the most popular man
in the ken.
Sono Hito was deeply grateful to his foreign friend,
who had showed him how to rig the pump so as to deliver
the water into a tank in the roof of the shrine. This
tank was a distributing reservoir. Part of the water
that the worshipers pumped into it poured down in a
stream on to the head of whoever might be working at
the crank, as he or she sat in the tub. The greater
part, however, flowed away into channels through the
rice-fields. As the pious came, therefore, and worked
the prayer-machine, they accomplished three things at
once, which, in the order of Sono San's idea of their
importance, would read pumping, irrigation, and puri-
fication. This explains how Sono Hito kept things
green, and why Kono Hito said " Trouble indeed ! "
Poor Kono Hito worried greatly over the early yellow-
ishness of his fields. He did not understand how Sono
Hito managed. He never had been to Yokohama, and
he knew nothing of chain-pumps. He believed that
Sono Hito's piety had won favor in Buddha's eyes, and
that the gods had blessed the fields as a mark of divine
pleasure. If he could have a bath shrine he might win
favor too, but that would cost money ; and then to give
the baths free, not to charge even a one-rin 1 piece for
them the thought was too painful.
Still, if Buddha would smile on him, it might pay,
thought Kono. It would pay but to spend the money !
" Trouble ! " Therefore he devised how he might be
" Namu omahen de gisu," said the wife in the dialect
of her district when a man called one morning to see
Kono Hito. She meant he was not at home (in Tokio
she might have said : " Tadaima rusu de gozaimasu."
That would have conveyed a similar idea). So the man
Down the road he heard a voice calling " Korario,"
which to those who live in that region means, " Come
here." The man went in the direction of the call, and
found Kono Hito busy with a carpenter and well-digger,
discussing plans for an opposition bath shrine. Kono
Hito was in agony over the cost, but the workmen had
reached their lowest limit, and, with many bows, were
protesting that if they cut their price down even a
46 jno " * further they would not have enough left to pay
1 One rin equals one-twentieth of a cent.
2 One mo ^ of a rin, i. e. -^ of a cent.
THE HEART OF JAPAN
for the air they breathed while digging. So Kono had
to give in.
Within a week the plans had materialized. There
was a well with a pair of buckets, a tub, and a shrine
dedicated to the use of worshipers. It was not a
cataract bath, nor was the well deep, but Kono Hito
hoped Buddha would take his poverty into account and
smile as sweetly as though the water fell direct from a
spring on the mountain side.
But Buddha did not smile. No one went to Kono
Hito's shrine bath unless too many had gathered at the
place across the way. *' Without worshipers Buddha
will not smile," said the unhappy husbandman.
" Trouble, trouble ! What shall I do? " This brought
He took a station at a point that commanded a view
of the road, and whenever he saw those coming who
might be worshipers he went into Sono Hito's shrine, sat
himself in the tank, turned the crank, and prayed vigor-
This was a cunning scheme, for the pilgrims, after
waiting long for Kono to finish, would decide that such
fervent piety should not be disturbed, and, leaving the
zealot in Sono Hito's tub, they would cross over to do
as best they might with the two buckets. When they
had washed they emptied these buckets on the roadside.
But still Buddha did not smile on the fields of Kono San.
Kono San, however, as he ground and ground away,
taking twenty or thirty baths a day, chilling himself
in the cataract, and pumping three times as much water
over Sono Hito's fields as he brought down on to his
aching poll, had much tenacity, and a belief that if he
could keep the pious to his side of the road long enough
he would receive the blessings his soul yearned for.
He pumped and prayed heroically, resting little and
eating less, while Sono Hito took a peep at him occa-
sionally, and showed not the least vexation.
Kono San wondered at this, for he had been rather
fearful of discovery, and when he learned that the man he
was so jealous of had seen him and had said nothing, he
did not understand ; nor could he understand why Buddha
did not show some sign of favor. As he pumped, he
puzzled upon these things, and grew more and more at-
Overbathing, even with prayers, is not good. When
Junsa, the policeman, called Isha, the physician, to
Sono Hito's shrine one evening, and let his lantern
light fall on Kono Hito's face, the man of medicine said,
" Water on the brain." Two days later his family
buried him, and Sono Hito gave money for a stone
column to mark the resting-place of the dead man's
ashes. Why not? Kono Hito really had helped Sono
Hito a good deal.
O TOYO SAN
KONO HITO took us over one day to visit his
friends at Tatsumi, an interesting old place, where
we had a practical demonstration of the irresisti-
bility of Japanese hospitality. We had intended to
spend only an afternoon, but our intentions might as well
have been non-existent for all that they availed. A
wooden image would have succumbed, and neither of us
was an image, though, in the light of native charm of
manner, we appeared to ourselves wooden enough. So
it was that that afternoon visit, under Tatsumi manipu-
lation, expanded into days, and the days into weeks.
We were the only foreigners the villagers had ever
seen, and though it was in the days of passports, the
police did not ask us to produce our papers. They had
never had occasion to look up the law about " bar-
Tatsumi gave us a chance indeed to see Japan at
home. There we were near enough to native life to hear
the heart beat. We did not see much of Tatsumi's
owner, Hikusaburo, as he was away much, but his father
and his mother we came to know well, and also his chil-
dren, his doll wife, and last, but far from least, the
sweet lady who had preceded her. O Toyo was her
name. Once, in Hikusaburo's absence, we paid a three
O TOYO SAN
days' visit to her home, a charming place, and again we
saw her close to Tatsumi but not inside.
I recall her now, as she sat tapping the ashes from
her silver pipe in one of the small thatched houses that
stand just outside the blackened walls of that old home-
stead. She was waiting for her kurumaya, the coolie,
who had dropped the shafts of his jin-riki-sha and was
taking a bowl of rice with some old friends at the gate
where he had served for many years. O Toyo San was
on her way to Biwa, and farther south, and had stopped
at the cottage that she might see her children.
There was a longing in her eyes as she sat half kneel-
ing on the little square mat by the brazier, now arrang-
ing the bits of charcoal with her tongs, and now taking
a bit of tobacco from the pouch beside her on the
matting. Her face was gentle and sweet to look upon.
When she smiled her eyes sparkled, and her parting lips
discovered pearly teeth that had never needed a dentist's
care. But her smile was hardly more than courtesy,
despite its gentle look, for a yearning was in her heart
that a woman of another race would hardly have con-
She was a mother, but her children were growing up
almost as strangers to her. It is not her fault at all.
Her parents had arranged her marriage when she was
hardly in her teens, without asking her whether she
would or not. Obedience was the only law she knew,
and with filial piety (why is there not a good old Eng-
lish equivalent for this term?) she had done her parents'
bidding, not questioning their choice. Her lot had been
THE HEART OF JAPAN
that of many another native woman, and she must wait
outside to see the children born to her in Tatsumi, a girl
and a boy.
The boy, O Bo Chan, as the house-folk call him,
is heir to the ancient manor. The master of Tat-
sumi is lord of all the region round. He has owned
Hombo, the village extending northward, ever since men
first abode there, and the checker board of rice-fields
reaching far out towards the boundaries of Niu Gun,
one of the richest counties in the famous province of
Those, however, who have long known Tatsumi and
the lord thereof doubt if much but the name of these
great possessions will be left by the time O Bo Chan has
come to man's estate. Bo's grandfather has been
" inkiyo " (in retirement) many years. Before he retired
from active life to devote himself to study and medi-
tation he had lived like a prince, but well within his
income. When he handed over his estates to his son,
Hikusaburo, he had accompanied the transfer with much
good advice, which the heir had acknowledged dutifully,
saying, " I listen with respectful assent " and " Honor-
ably so augustly is " frequently.
But Tatsumi's friends said " Neko ni koban " (" Gold
coins to a cat " ) when they spoke among themselves,
though in public they held their peace.