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Japanese Girls and Women

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CHAPTER 7 - LIFE IN CASTLE AND YASHIKI.


The seclusion of the Emperors and the gathering of the reins of government into the hands of Shōguns was a gradual process, beginning not long after the introduction of Chinese civilization, and continuing to grow until Iyéyasŭ, the founder of the Tokugawa dynasty, through his code of laws, took from the Emperor the last vestige of real power, and perfected the feudal system which maintained the sway of his house for two hundred and fifty years of peace.

The Emperor's court, with its literary and æsthetic quiet, its simplicity of life and complexity of etiquette, was the centre of the culture and art of Japan, but never the centre of luxury. After the growth of the Tokugawa power had secured for that house and its retainers great hereditary possessions, the Emperor's court was a mere shadow in the presence of the magnificence in which the Tokugawas and the daimiōs chose to live. The wealth of the country was in the hands of those who held the real power, and the Emperor was dependent for his support upon his great vassal, who held the land, collected the taxes, made the laws, and gave to his master whatever seemed necessary for his maintenance in the simple style of the old days, keeping for himself and for his retainers enough to make Yedo, the Tokugawa capital, the centre of a luxury far surpassing anything ever seen at the Emperor's own court. While the kugé, the old imperial nobility, formerly the governors of the provinces under the Emperors, lived in respectable but often extreme poverty at Kyōto, the landed nobility, or daimiōs, brought, after many struggles, under the sway of the Tokugawas, built for themselves palaces and pleasure gardens in the moated city of Yedo. At Yedo with its castle, its gardens, its yashikis, and its fortifications, was established a new court, more luxurious, but less artistic and cultivated, than the old court of Kyōto. In the various provinces, too, at every castle town, a little court arose about the castle, and the daimiō became not only the feudal chief, but the patron of literature and art among his people, as the years went by filling his kura with choice works of art, in lacquer, bronze, silver, and pottery, to be brought out on special occasions. These nobles, under a law of Iyémitsŭ, the third of the Tokugawa line, were compelled to spend half of each year at the city of the Shōguns; and each had his yashiki, or large house and garden, in the city. At this house, his family must reside permanently, as hostages for the loyalty of their lord while away. The annual journeys to and from Yedo were events not only in the lives of the daimiōs and their trains of retainers, but in the lives of the country people who lived along the roads by which they must travel. The time and style of each journey for each daimiō were rigidly prescribed in the laws of Iyémitsŭ, as well as the behavior of the country people who might meet the procession moving towards Yedo, or returning therefrom. When some noble, or any member of his family, was to pass through a certain section of the country, great preparations were made beforehand. Not only was traffic stopped along the route, but every door and window had to be closed. By no means was any one to show himself, or to look in any way upon the passing procession. To do so was to commit a profane deed, punishable by a fine. Among other things, no cooking was allowed on that day. All the food must be prepared the day before, as the air was supposed to become polluted by the smoke from the fires. Thus through crowded cities, full and busy with life, the daimiō in his curtained palanquin, with numerous retinue, would pass by; but wherever he approached, the place would be as deserted and silent as if plague-stricken. It is hardly necessary to add that these journeys, attended with so much ceremony and inconvenience to the people, were not as frequent as the trips now taken, at a moment's notice, from one city to another, by these very same men.

One story current in Tōkyō shows the narrowing effect of such seclusion. A noble who had traveled into Yedo, across one of the large bridges built over the Sumida River, remarked one day to his companions that he was greatly disappointed on seeing that bridge. "From the pictures," he said, "which I have seen, the bridge seemed alive with people, the centre of life and activity, but the artists must exaggerate, for not a soul was on the bridge when I passed by."

The castle of the Shōgun in Yedo, with its moats and fortifications, and its fine house and great kura, was reproduced on a small scale in the castles scattered through the country; and as in Yedo the yashikis of the daimiōs stood next to the inner moat of the castle, that the retainers might be ready to defend their lord at his earliest call, so in the provinces the yashikis of the samurai occupied a similar position about the daimiō's castle.

It is curious to see that, as the Shōgun took away the military and temporal power of the Emperor, making of him only a figure-head without real power, so, to a certain degree, the daimiō gave up, little by little, the personal control of his own province, the power falling into the hands of ambitious samurai, who became the councilors of their lord. The samurai were the learned class and the military class; they were and are the life of Japan; and it is no wonder that the nobles, protected and shielded from the world, and growing up without much education, should have changed in the course of centuries from strong, brave warriors into the delicate, effeminate, luxury-loving nobles of the present day. Upon the loyalty and wisdom of the samurai, often upon some one man of undoubted ability, rested the greatness of the province and the prosperity of the master's house.

The life of the ladies in these daimiōs' houses is still a living memory to many of the older women of Japan; but it is a memory only, and has given place to a different state of things. The Emperor occupies the castle of the Shōgun to-day, and every daimiō's castle throughout the country is in the hands of the imperial government. The old pleasure gardens of the nobles are turned into arsenals, schools, public parks, and other improvements of the new era. But here and there one finds some conservative family of nobles still keeping up in some measure the customs of former times; and daimiōs' houses there are still in Tōkyō, though stripped of power and of retainers, where life goes on in many ways much as it did in the old days. In such a house as this, one finds ladies-in-waiting, of the samurai rank, who serve her ladyship—the daimiō's wife—in all personal service. In the old days, the daughters of the samurai were eager for the training in etiquette, and in all that belongs to nice housekeeping, that might be obtained by a few years of apprenticeship in a daimiō's house, and gladly assumed the most menial positions for the sake of the education and reputation to be gained by such training.

The wife and daughters of a daimiō led the quietest of lives, rarely passing beyond the four great walls that inclose the palace with its grounds. They saw the changes of the seasons in the flowers that bloomed in their lovely gardens, when, followed by numerous attendants, they slowly walked through the bamboo groves or under the bloom-laden boughs of the plum or cherry trees, forming their views of life, its pleasures, its responsibilities, and its meaning, within the narrow limits of the daimiō's yashiki.

Their mornings were passed in the adorning of their own persons, and in the elaborate dressing of their luxuriant hair; the afternoons were spent in the tea ceremony, in writing poetry, or the execution of a sort of silk mosaic that is a favorite variety of fancy work still among the ladies of Japan.

A story is told of one of the Tokugawa princesses that illustrates the amusements of the Shōgun's daughters, and the pains that were taken to gratify their wishes, however unreasonable. The cherry-trees of the castle gardens of Tōkyō are noted for their beauty when in bloom during the month of April. It is said that once a daughter of the Tokugawa house expressed a wish to give a garden party amid the blossoming cherry-trees in the month of December, and nothing would do but that her wishes must be carried out. Her retainers accordingly summoned to their aid skillful artificers, who from pink and white tissue paper produced myriads of cherry blossoms, so natural that they could hardly be distinguished from the real ones. These they fastened upon the trees in just such places as the real flowers would have chosen to occupy, and the happy princess gave her garden party in December under the pink mist of cherry blooms.

The children of a daimiō's wife occupied her attention but little. They were placed in the charge of careful attendants, and the mother, though allowed to see them when she wished, was deprived of the pleasure of constant intercourse with them, and had none of the mother's cares which form so large a part of life to an ordinary Japanese woman.

When we know that the average Japanese girl is brought up strictly by her own mother, and thoroughly drilled in obedience and in all that is proper as regards etiquette and the duties of woman, we can imagine the narrowness of the education of the daimiō's poor little daughter, surrounded, from early childhood, with numerous attendants of the strictest sort, to teach her all that is proper according to the highest and severest standards. Sometimes, by the whim or the indulgence of parents, or through exceptional circumstances in her surroundings, a samurai's daughter became more independent, more self-reliant, or better educated, than others of her rank; but such opportunities never came to the more carefully reared noble's daughter.

From her earliest childhood, she was addressed in the politest and most formal way, so that she could not help acquiring polite manners and speech. She was taught etiquette above all things, so that no rude action or speech would disgrace her rank; and that she should give due reverence to her superiors, courtesy to equals, and polite condescension to inferiors. She was taught especially to show kindness to the families under the rule of her father, and was early told of the noble's duty to protect and love his retainers, as a father loves and protects his children. From childhood, presents were made in her name to those around her, often without her previous knowledge or permission, and from them she would receive profuse thanks,—lessons in the delights of beneficence which could not fail to make their impression on the child princess. Even to inferiors she used the polite language, and never the rude, brusque speech of men, or the careless phrases and expressions of the lower classes.

The education of the daimiō's daughter was conducted entirely at home. Instead of going out to masters for instruction, she was taught by some one in the household,—one of her father's retainers, or perhaps a member of her own private retinue. Teachers for certain branches came from outside, and these were not expected to give the lesson within a certain time and hurry away, but they would remain, conversing, sipping tea, and partaking of sweetmeats, until their noble pupil was ready to receive them. Hospitality required that the teacher be offered a meal after the lesson, and this meal etiquette would not permit him to refuse, so that both teacher and pupil must spend much time waiting for each other and for the lesson.

Pursued in this leisurely way, the education of the noble's daughter could not advance very rapidly, and it usually ended with an extremely early marriage; and the girl wife would sometimes play with her doll in the new home until the living baby took its place to the young mother.

The samurai women, who in one position or another were close attendants on these noble ladies, performing for them every act of service, were often women of more than average intelligence and education. From childhood to old age, the noble ladies were never without one or more of these maids of honor, close at hand to help or advise. Some entered the service in the lower positions for only a short period, leaving sooner or later to be married; for continued service in a daimiō's household meant a single life. Many of them remained in the palace all their days, leading lives of devotion to their mistress; the comfort and ease of which hardly compensated for the endless formalities and the monotonous seclusion.

Even the less responsible and more menial positions were not looked down upon, and the higher offices in the household were exceedingly honorable. When, once in a long while, a day's leave of absence was granted to one of these gentlewomen, and, loaded with presents sent by the daimiō's lady, she went on her visit to her home, she was received as a greatly honored member of her own family. The respect which was paid to her knowledge of etiquette and dress was never lessened because of the menial services she might have performed for those of noble blood.

The lady who was the head attendant, and those in the higher positions, had a great deal of power and influence in matters that concerned their mistress and the household; just as the male retainers decided for the prince, and in their own way, many of the affairs of the province. The few conservative old ladies, the last relics of the numerous retainers that once filled the castle, who still remain faithful in attendance in the homes now deprived of the grandeur of the olden times, look with horror upon the innovations of the present day, and sigh for the glory of old Japan. It is only upon compulsion that they give up many of the now useless formalities, and resign themselves to seeing their once so honored lords jostle elbow to elbow with the common citizen.

I shall never forget the horror of one old lady, attendant on a noble's daughter of high rank, just entering the peeress' school, when it was told her that each student must carry in her own bundle of books and arrange them herself, and that the attendants were not allowed in the classroom. The poor old lady was doubtless indignant at the thought that her noble-born mistress should have to perform even so slight a task as the arranging of her own desk unaided.

In the daimiōs' houses there was little of the culture or wit that graced the more aristocratic seclusion of Kyōto, and none of the duties and responsibilities that belonged to the samurai women, so that the life of the daimiō's lady was perhaps more purposeless, and less stimulating to the noble qualities, than the lives of any other of the women of Japan. Surrounded by endless restrictions of etiquette, lacking both the stimulus that comes from physical toil and that to be derived from intellectual exertion, the ladies of this class of the nobility simply vegetated. There is little wonder that the nobles degenerated both mentally and physically during the years when the Tokugawas held sway; for there was absolutely nothing in the lives of the women to fit them to be the wives and mothers of strong men. Delicate, dainty, refined, dexterous in all manner of little things but helpless to act for themselves,—ladies to the inmost core of their beings, with instincts of honor and of noblesse oblige appearing in them from earliest childhood,—the years of seclusion, of deference from hundreds of retainers, of constant instruction in the duties as well as the dignities of their position, have produced an abiding effect upon the minds of the women of this aristocracy, and to-day even the youngest and smallest of them have the virtues as well as the failings produced by nearly three centuries of training. They are lacking in force, in ambition, in clearness of thought, among a nation abounding in those qualities; but the national characteristics of dignity, charming manners, a quick sense of honor, and indomitable pride of race and nation, combined with a personal modesty almost deprecating in its humility,—these are found among the daughters of the nobles developed to their highest extent. With the qualities of gentleness and delicacy possessed by these ladies, which make them shrink from rough contact with the outer world, there are mingled the stronger qualities of moral and physical courage. A daimiō's wife, as befitted the wife of a warrior and the daughter of long generations of brave men, never shrank from facing danger and death when necessary; and considered the taking of her own life an honorable and easy escape from being captured by her enemy.

Two or three little ripples from the past broke into my life in Tōkyō, giving a little insight into those old feudal times, and the customs that were common then, but that are now gone forever. A story was told me in Japan by a lady who had herself, as a child, witnessed the events narrated. It illustrates the responsibility felt by the retainers for their lord and his house. A daimiō fell into disgrace with the Shōgun, and was banished to his own capital,—a castle town several days' journey from Yedo,—as a punishment for some offense. The castle gates were closed, and no communication with the outer world allowed. During this period of disgrace, it happened that the noble fell ill, and died quite suddenly before his punishment was ended. His death under such circumstances was the most terrible thing that could befall either himself or his family, as his funeral must be without the ordinary tokens of respect; and his tombstone, instead of bearing tribute to his virtues, and the favor in which he had been held by his lord, must be simply the monument of his disgrace. This being the case, the retainers felt that these evils must be averted at any cost. Knowing that the Shōgun's anger was probably not so great as to make him wish to bring eternal disgrace to their dead lord, they at once decided to send a messenger to the Shōgun, begging for pardon on the plea of desperate illness, and asking the restoration of his favor before the approach of death. The death was not announced, but the floor of the room in which the man had died was lifted up, and the body let down to the ground beneath; and through all the town it was announced that the daimiō was hopelessly ill. Forty days passed before the Shōgun sent to the retainers the token that the disgrace was removed, and during all those forty days, in castle and barrack and village, the fiction of the daimiō's illness was kept up. As soon as the messengers returned, the body was drawn up again through the floor and placed on the bed; and all the retainers, from the least unto the greatest, were summoned into the room to congratulate their master upon his restoration to favor. One by one they entered the darkened room, prostrated themselves before the corpse, and uttered the formal words of congratulation. Then when all, even to the little girl who, grown to womanhood, told me the story, had been through the horrible ceremony, it was announced that the master was dead,—that he had died immediately after the return of the messenger with the good tidings of pardon. All obstacles being thus removed, the funeral was celebrated with due pomp and circumstance; and the tombstone of the daimiō to-day gives no hint of the disgrace from which he so narrowly escaped.

Another instance very similar, throwing some light on the custom of adoption or yōshi, referred to in a previous chapter, was the case of a nobleman who died without children, and without an heir appointed to inherit his title. It would never have done, in sending in the official notice of death, to be unable to name the legal head of the house and the successor to the title. There was also no male relative to perform the office of chief mourner at the funeral; and so the death of the nobleman was kept secret, and his house showed no signs of mourning during a long period, until a son satisfactory to all the members of the household had been adopted. When the legal notice of the adoption had been sent in, and the son received into the family as heir, then, and only then, was the death of the lord announced, the period of mourning begun, and the funeral ceremony performed.

Upon one occasion I was visiting a Japanese lady, who knew the interest that I took in seeing and procuring the old-fashioned embroidered kimonos, which are now entirely out of style in Japan, and which can only be obtained at second-hand clothing stores, or at private sale. My friend said that she had just been shown an assortment of old garments which were offered at private sale by the heirs of a lady, recently deceased, who had once been a maid of honor in a daimiō's house. The clothes were still in the house, and were brought in, in a great basket, for my inspection. Very beautiful garments they were, of silk, crêpe, and linen, embroidered elaborately, and in extremely good order. Many of them seemed not to have been worn at all, but had been kept folded away for years, and only brought out when a fitting occasion came round at the proper season of the year. As we turned over the beautiful fabrics, a black broadcloth garment at the bottom of the basket aroused my curiosity, and I pulled it out and held it up for closer inspection. A curious garment it was, bound with white, and with a great white crest appliqué on the middle of the back. Curious white stripes gave the coat a military look, and it seemed appropriate rather to the wardrobe of some two-sworded warrior than to that of a gentlewoman of the old type. To the question, How did such a coat come to be in such a place? the older lady of the company—one to whom the old days were still the natural order and the new customs an exotic growth—explained that the garment rightfully belonged in the wardrobe of any lady-in-waiting in a daimiō's house, for it was made to wear in case of fire or attack when the men were away, and the women were expected to guard the premises. Further search among the relics of the past brought to light the rest of the costume: silk hakama, or full kilted trousers; a stiff, manlike black silk cap bound with a white band; and a spear cover of broadcloth, with a great white crest upon it, like the one on the broadcloth coat. These made up the uniform which must be donned in time of need by the ladies of the palace or the castle, for the defense of their lord's property. They had been folded away for twenty years among the embroidered robes, to come to light at last for the purpose of showing to a foreigner a phase of the old life that was so much a matter of course to the older Japanese that it never occurred to them even to mention it to a stranger. The elder lady of the house was wonderfully amused at my interest in these mute memorials of the past, and could never comprehend why I was willing to expend the sum of one dollar for the sake of gaining possession of a set of garments for which I could have no possible use. The uniform had probably never been worn in actual warfare, but its owner had been trained in the use of the long-handled spear, the cover of which she had kept stored away all these years; and had regarded herself as liable to be called into action at any time as one of the home guard, when the male retainers of her lord were in the field.

There are in the shops of Tōkyō to-day hundreds of colored prints illustrating the splendor of the Shōgunate; for the fine clothes, the pageants, the show and display that ended with the fall of the house of Tokugawa, are still dear to the popular mind. In these one sees reproduced, in more than their original brilliancy of coloring, the daimiōs, with their trains of uniformed retainers, proceeding in stately pageant to the palace of the Shōgun; the games, the dances, the reviews held before the Shōgun himself; the princess, with her train of ladies and attendants, visiting the cherry blossoms at Uyéno, or crossing some swift but shallow river on her journey to Yedo. There one sees the fleet of red-lacquered pleasure barges in which the Shōgun with his court sailed up the river to Mukōjima, in the spring, to view the cherry-trees which bloom along the banks for miles. One sees, too, the interiors of the daimiōs' houses, the intimate domestic scenes into which no outsider could ever penetrate. One picture shows the excitements consequent upon the advent of an heir to a noble house,—the happy mother on her couch, surrounded by brightly dressed ladies-in-waiting; the baby in the room adjoining; another group of brilliant beings preparing his bath; while down the long piazza, which opens upon the little courtyard in the centre of the house, one sees still other groups of servants, bringing the gifts with which the great mansion is flooded at such a time. Still further away, across the courtyard, are the doctors, holding learned consultation around a little table, and mixing medicines to secure the health and strength of both mother and baby.

The fall of the Shōgunate, and the abolition of castle and yashiki, have made a radical change in the fashions of dress in Japan. One sees no longer the beautiful embroidered robes, except upon the stage, for the abolition of the great leisure class has put the flowered kimono out of fashion. There are no courts, small and great, scattered all through the country, where the ladies must be dressed in changing styles for the changing seasons, and where the embroideries that imitate most closely the natural flowers are sure of a market. When one asks, as every foreigner is likely to ask, the Japanese ladies of one's acquaintance, "Why have you given up the beautiful embroideries and gorgeous colors that you used to wear?" the answer always is, "There are no daimiōs' houses now." And this is regarded as a sufficient explanation of the change.

I have in my possession to-day two dainty bits of the silk mosaic work before mentioned, the work of the sixteen-year-old wife of one of the proudest and most conservative of the present generation of nobles. A dainty little creature she was, with a face upon which her two years of wifehood and one year of motherhood had left no trace of care. Living amid her host of ladies and women servants, most of them older and wiser than herself; having no care and no amusements save the easy task of keeping herself pretty and well-dressed, and the amusement of watching her baby grow, and hearing the chance rumors that might come to her from the great new world into which her husband daily went, but with which she herself never mingled,—her days were one pleasant, monotonous round, unawakening alike either to soul or intellect. Into this life of remoteness from all that belongs to the new era, imagine the excitement produced by the advent of a foreign lady, with an educated dog, whose wonderful intelligence had been already related to her by one of her own ladies-in-waiting. I shall always believe that my invitation into that exclusive house was due largely to the reports of my dog, carried to its proprietors by one of the lady servitors who had seen him perform upon one occasion. Certain it is that the first words of the little lady of the house to me were a question about the dog; and her last act of politeness to our party was a warm embrace of the handsome collie, who had given unimpeachable evidence that he understood a great deal of English,—a tongue which the daimiō himself was painfully learning. The dainty child-wife with both arms buried in the heavy ruff of the astonished dog is a picture that comes to me often, and that brings up most pathetically the monotony of an existence into which so small a thing can bring so much. The lifelike black and white silk puppy, the creeping baby doll from Kyōto, the silk mosaic box and chopstick case,—the work of my lady's delicate fingers,—are most agreeable reminders of the kindness and sweetness of the little wife, whose sixteen summers have been spent among the surroundings of thirty years ago, and who lives, like the enchanted princess of the fairy tales, wrapped about by a spell which separates her from the bustling world of to-day. The product of the past,—the daughter of the last of the Shōguns,—she dwells in her enchanted house, among the relics of a past which is still the present to her and to her household. So lovely, so æsthetic, so dainty and charming seems the world into which one enters there, that one would not care to break the spell that holds it as it is, and let the girl-wife, with her gentlewomen and her kneeling servants, hurry forward into the busy, perplexing life of to-day. May time deal gently with her and hers, nor rudely break the enchantment that surrounds her!




CHAPTER 8 - SAMURAI WOMEN.

Samurai was the name given to the military class among the Japanese,—a class intermediate between the Emperor and his nobles and the great mass of the common people who were engaged in agriculture, mechanical arts, or trade. Upon the samurai rested the defense of the country from enemies at home or abroad, as well as the preservation of literature and learning, and the conduct of all official business. At the time of the fall of feudalism, there were, among the thirty-four millions of Japanese, about two million samurai; and in this class, in the broadest sense of the word, must be included the daimiōs, as well as their two-sworded retainers. But as the greater among the samurai were distinguished by special class names, the word as commonly used, and as used throughout this work, applies to the military class, who served the Shōgun and the daimiōs, and who were supported by yearly allowances from the treasuries of their lords. These form a distinct class, actuated by motives quite different from those of the lower classes, and filling a great place in the history of the country. As the nobility, through long inheritance of power and wealth, became weak in body and mind, the samurai grew to be, more and more, not only the sword, but the brain of Japan; and to-day the great work of bringing the country out of the middle ages into the nineteenth century is being performed by the samurai more than by any other class.

What, it may be asked, are the traits of the samurai which distinguish them, and make them such honored types of the perfect Japanese gentleman, so that to live and die worthy the name of samurai was the highest ambition of the soldier? The samurai's duty may be expressed in one word, loyalty,—loyalty to his lord and master, and loyalty to his country,—loyalty so true and deep that for it all human ties, hopes, and affections, wife, children, and home, must be sacrificed if necessary. Those who have read the tale of "The Loyal Rōnins"—a story which has been so well told by Mitford, Dickins, and Greey that many readers must be already familiar with it—will remember that the head councilor and retainer, Oishi, in his deep desire for revenge for his lord's unjust death, divorces his wife and sends off his children, that they may not distract his thoughts from his plans; and performs his famous act of revenge without once seeing his wife, only letting her know at his death his faithfulness to her and the true cause of his seeming cruelty. And the wife, far from feeling wronged by such an act, only glories in the loyalty of her husband, who threw aside everything to fulfill his one great duty, even though she herself was his unhappy victim.

The true samurai is always brave, never fearing death or suffering in any form. Life and death are alike to him, if no disgrace is attached to his name.

An incident comes into my mind which may serve as an example of the samurai spirit,—a spirit which has filled the history of Japan with heroic deeds. It is the story of a long siege, at the end of which the little garrison in the besieged castle was reduced to the last stages of endurance, though hourly expecting reinforcement. In this state of affairs, the great question is, whether to wait for the expected aid, or to surrender immediately, and the answer to the question can only be obtained through a knowledge of the enemy's strength. At this juncture, one of the samurai volunteers to steal into the camp of the besiegers, inspect their forces, and report their strength before the final decision is made. He disguises himself, and through various chances is able to penetrate, unsuspected, into the midst of the enemy's camp. He discovers that the besiegers are so weak that they cannot maintain the siege much longer, but while returning to the castle he is recognized and taken by the enemy. His captors give him one chance for escape from the horrible death of crucifixion. He is to go to the edge of the moat, and, standing on an elevated place, shout out to the soldiers that they must surrender, for the forces are too strong for them. He seemingly consents to this, and, led down to the water's edge, he sees across the moat his wife and child, who greet him with demonstrations of joy. To her he waves his hand; then, bravely and loudly, so that it may be heard by friend and foe, he shouts out the true tidings, "Wait for reinforcement at any cost, for the besiegers are weak and will soon have to give up." At these words his enraged enemies seize him and put him to a death of horrible torture, but he smiles in their faces as he tells them the sweetness of such a sacrifice for his master. Japanese history abounds with heroic deeds of blood displaying the indomitable courage of the samurai. In the reading of them, we are often reminded of the Spartan spirit of warfare, and samurai women are in some ways very like those Spartan mothers who would rather die than see their sons branded as cowards.

The implicit obedience which samurai gave their lords, when conflicting with feelings of loyalty to their country, often produced two opposing forces which had to be overcome. When the daimiō gave orders that the keener-sighted retainer felt would not be for the good of the house, he had either to disobey his lord, or act against his feeling of loyalty. Divided between the two duties, the samurai would usually do as he thought right for his country or his lord, disobeying his master's orders; write a confession of his real motives; and save his name from disgrace by committing suicide. By this act he would atone for his disobedience, and his loyalty would never be questioned.

The now abolished custom of hara-kiri, or the voluntary taking of one's life to avoid disgrace, and blot out entirely or partially the stain on an honorable name, is a curious custom which has come down from old times. The ancient heroes stabbed themselves as calmly as they did their enemies, and women as well as men knew how to use the short sword worn always at the side of the samurai, his last and easy escape from shame.

The young men of this class, as well as their masters, the daimiōs, were early instructed in the method of this self-stabbing, so that it might be cleanly and easily done, for a bloody and unseemly death would not redound to the honor of the suicide. The fatal cut was not instantaneous in its effect, and there was always opportunity for that display of courage—that show of disregard for death or pain—which was expected of the brave man.

The hara-kiri was of course a last resort, but it was an honorable death. The vulgar criminal must be put to death by the hands of others, but the nobler samurai, who never cares to survive disgrace, was condemned to hara-kiri if found guilty of actions worthy of death. Not to be allowed to do this, but to be executed in the common way, was a double disgrace to a samurai. Even to this day, when crimes such as the assassination of a minister of state are committed, in the mistaken belief that the act is for the good of the country, the idea on the part of the assassin is never to escape detection. He calmly gives himself up to justice or takes his own life, stating his motive for the deed; and, believing himself justified in the act, is willing that his life should be the cost.

The old samurai was proud of his rank, his honorable vocation, his responsibility; proud of his ignorance of trade and barter and of his disregard for the sordid cares of the world, regarding as far beneath him all occupations but those of arms. Wealth, as artisan or farmer, rarely tempted him to sink into the lower ranks; and his support from the daimiō, often a mere pittance, insured to him more respect and greater privileges than wealth as a héimin. To this day even, this feeling exists. Preference for rank or position, rather than for mere salary, remains strongly among the present generation, so that official positions are more sought after than the more lucrative occupations of trade. Japan is flooded with small officials, and yet the samurai now is obliged to lay down his sword and devote his time to the once despised trades, and to learn how important are the arts of peace compared with those of war.

The dislike of anything suggestive of trade or barter—of services and actions springing, not from duty and from the heart, but from the desire of gain—has strongly tinted many little customs of the day, often misunderstood and misconstrued by foreigners. In old Japan, experience and knowledge could not be bought and sold. Physicians did not charge for their services, but on the contrary would decline to name or even receive a compensation from those in their own clan. Patients, on their side, were too proud to accept services free, and would send to the physicians, not as pay exactly, but more as a gift or a token of gratitude, a sum of money which varied according to the means of the giver, as well as to the amount of service received. Daimiōs did not send to ask a teacher how much an hour his time was worth, and then arrange the lessons accordingly; the teacher was not insulted by being expected to barter his knowledge for so much filthy lucre, but was merely asked whether his time and convenience would allow of his taking extra teaching. The request was made, not as a matter of give and take, but a favor to be granted. Due compensation, however, would never fail to be made,—of this the teacher could be sure,—but no agreement was ever considered necessary.

With this feeling yet remaining in Japan,—this dislike of contracts, and exact charges for professional services,—we can imagine the inward disgust of the samurai at the business-like habits of the foreigners with whom he has to deal. On the other hand, his feelings are not appreciated by the foreigner, and his actions clash with the European and American ideas of independence and self-respect. In Japan a present of money is more honorable than pay, whereas in America pay is much more honorable than a present.

The samurai of to-day is rapidly imbibing new ideas, and is learning to see the world from a Western point of view; but his thoughts and actions are still moulded on the ideas of old Japan, and it will be a long time before the loyal, faithful, but proud spirit of the samurai will die out. The pride of clan is now changed to pride of race; loyalty to feudal chief has become loyalty to the Emperor as sovereign; and the old traits of character exist under the European costumes of to-day, as under the flowing robes of the two-sworded retainer.

It is this same spirit of loyalty that has made it hard for Christianity to get a foothold in Japan. The Emperor was the representative of the gods of Japan. To embrace a new religion seemed a desertion of him, and the following of the strange gods of the foreigner. The work of the Catholic missionaries which ended so disastrously in  has left the impression that a Christian is bound to offer allegiance to the Pope in much the same way as the Emperor now receives it from his people; and the bitterness of such a thought has made many refuse to hear what Christianity really is. Such words as "King" and "Lord" they have understood as referring to temporal things, and it has taken years to undo this prejudice; a feeling in no way surprising when we consider how the Jesuit missionaries once interfered with political movements in Japan.

So bitter was this feeling, when Japan was first opened, that a native Christian was at once branded as a traitor to his country, and very severe was the persecution against all Christians. Missionaries at one time dared not acknowledge themselves as such, and lived in danger of their lives; and the Japanese Christian who remained faithful did so knowing that he was despised and hated. I know of one mother who, finding command and entreaty alike unavailing to move her son, a convert to the new religion, threatened to commit suicide, feeling that the disgrace which had fallen on the family could only be wiped out with her death. Happily, all this is of the past, and to-day the samurai has found that he can reconcile the new religion with his loyalty to Japan, and that in receiving the one he is not led to betray the other.

The women of the samurai have shared with the men the responsibilities of their rank, and the pride that comes from hereditary positions of responsibility. A woman's first duty in all ranks of society is obedience; but sacrifice of self, in however horrible a way, was a duty most cheerfully and willingly performed, when by such sacrifice father, husband, or son might be the better able to fulfill his duty towards his feudal superior. The women in the daimiōs' castles who were taught fencing, drilled and uniformed, and relied upon to defend the castle in case of need, were women of this class,—women whose husbands and fathers were soldiers, and in whose veins ran the blood of generations of fighting ancestors. Gentle, feminine, delicate as they were, there was a possibility of martial prowess about them when the need for it came; and the long education in obedience and loyalty did not fail to produce the desired results. Death, and ignominy worse than death, could be met bravely, but disgrace involving loss of honor to husband or feudal lord was the one thing that must be avoided at all hazards. It was my good fortune, many years ago, to make the acquaintance of a little Japanese girl who had lived in the midst of the siege of Wakamatsu, the city in which the Shōgun's forces made their last stand for their lord and the system that he represented. As the Emperor's forces marched upon the castle town, moat after moat was taken, until at last men, women, and children took refuge within the citadel itself to defend it until the last gasp. The bombs of the besiegers fell crashing into the castle precincts, killing the women as they worked at whatever they could do in aid of the defenders; and even the little girls ran back and forth, amid the rain of bullets and balls, carrying cartridges, which the women were making within the castle, to the men who were defending the walls. "Weren't you afraid?" we asked the delicate child, when she told us of her own share in the defense. "No," was the answer. A small but dangerous sword, of the finest Japanese steel, was shown us as the sword that she wore in her belt during all those days of war and tumult. "Why did you wear the sword?" we asked. "So that I would have it if I was taken prisoner." "What would you have done with it?" was the next question, for we could not believe that a child of eight would undertake to defend herself against armed soldiers with that little sword. "I would have killed myself," was the answer, with a flash of the eye that showed her quite capable of committing the act in case of need.

In the olden times, when the spirit of warfare was strong and justice but scantily administered, revenge for personal insult, or for the death of father or lord, fell upon the children, or the retainers. Sometimes the bloody deed has fallen to the lot of a woman, to some weak and feeble girl, who, in many a tale, has braved all the difficulties that beset a woman's path, devoted her life to an act of vengeance, and, with the courage of a man, has often successfully consummated her revenge.

One of the tales of old Japan, and a favorite subject of theatrical representation, is the death and revenge of a lady in a daimiō's palace. Onoyé, a daughter of the people, child of a merchant, has by chance risen to the position of lady-in-waiting to a daimiō's wife,—a thing so uncommon that it has roused the jealousy of the other ladies, who are of the samurai class. Iwafuji, one of the highest and proudest ladies at the court, takes pains on every occasion to insult and torment the poor, unoffending Onoyé, whom she cannot bear to have as an associate. She constantly reminds her of her inferior birth, and at last challenges her to a trial in fencing, in which accomplishment Onoyé is not proficient, having lacked the proper training in her early life. At last the hatred and anger of Iwafuji culminate in a frenzy of rage; she forgets herself, and strikes the meek and gentle Onoyé with her sandal,—the worst insult that could be offered to any one.

Onoyé, overcome by this deep disgrace offered her in public, returns from the main palace to her own apartments, and ponders long and deeply, in the bitterness of her soul, how to wipe out the disgrace of an insult by such an enemy.

Her own faithful maid, seeing her disordered hair and anxious looks, perceives some secret trouble, which her mistress will not disclose, and tries, while performing her acts of service, to dispel the gloom by telling gayly all the gossip of the day. This maid, O Haru, is a type of the clever faithful servant. She is really of higher birth than her mistress, for, though she has been obliged to go out to service, she was born of a samurai family. Onoyé, while listening to the talk of her servant, has made up her mind that only one thing can blot out her disgrace, and that is to commit suicide. She hastily pens a farewell to her family, for the deed must not be delayed, and sends with the letter the token of her disgrace,—Iwafuji's sandal, which she has kept. O Haru is sent on this errand, and, unconscious of the ill-news she is bearing, she starts out. On the way, the ominous croak of the ravens, who are making a dismal noise,—a presage of ill-luck,—frightens the observant O Haru. A little further on, the strap of her clog breaks,—a still more alarming sign. Thoroughly frightened, O Haru turns back, and reaches her mistress' room in time to find that the fatal deed is done, and her mistress is dying. O Haru is heart-broken, learns the whole truth, and vows vengeance on the enemy of her loved mistress.

O Haru, unlike Onoyé, is thoroughly trained in fencing. An occasion arises when she returns to Iwafuji in public the malicious blow, and with the same sandal, which she has kept as a sign of her revenge. She then challenges Iwafuji, in behalf of the dead, to a trial in fencing. The haughty Iwafuji is forced to accept, and is thoroughly defeated and shamed before the spectators. The whole truth is now made known, and the daimiō, who admires and appreciates the spirit of O Haru, sends for her, and raises her from her low position to fill the post of her dead mistress.

These stories show the spirit of the samurai women; they can suffer death bravely, even joyfully, at their own hands or the hands of husband or father, to avoid or wipe out any disgrace which they regard as a loss of honor; but they will as bravely and patiently subject themselves to a life of shame and ignominy, worse than death, for the sake of gaining for husband or father the means of carrying out a feudal obligation. There is a pathetic scene, in one of the most famous of the Japanese historical dramas, in which one seems to get the moral perspective of the ideal Japanese woman, as one cannot get it in any other way. The play is founded on the story of "The Loyal Rōnins," referred to in the beginning of this chapter. The loyal rōnins are plotting to avenge the death of their master upon the daimiō whose cupidity and injustice have brought it about. As there is danger of disloyalty even in their own ranks, Oishi, the leader of the dead daimiō's retainers, displays great caution in the selection of his fellow-conspirators, and practices every artifice to secure absolute secrecy for his plans. One young man, who was in disgrace with his lord at the time of his death, applies to be admitted within the circle of conspirators; but as it is suspected that he may not be true to the cause, a payment in money is exacted from him as a pledge of his honorable intentions. It is thus made his first duty to redeem his honor from all suspicion by the payment of the money, in order that he may perform his feudal obligation of avenging the death of his lord. But the young man is poor; he has married a poor girl, and has agreed to support not only his wife, but her old parents as well, and the payment is impossible for him. In this emergency, his wife, at the suggestion of her parents, proposes, as the only way, to sell herself, for a term of two years, to the proprietor of a house of pleasure, that she may by this vile servitude enable her husband to escape the dishonor that must come to him if he fails to fulfill his feudal duty. Negotiations are entered into, the contract is made, and an advance payment is given which will furnish money enough for the pledge required by the conspirators. All this is done without the knowledge of the husband, lest his love for his wife and his grief for the sacrifice prevent him from accepting the only means left to prove his loyalty. The noble wife even plans to leave her home while he is away on a hunting expedition, and so spare him the pain of parting. His emotion upon learning of this venture in business is not of wrath at the disgrace that has overtaken his family, but simply of grief that his wife and her parents must make so great a sacrifice to save his honor. It is a terrible affliction, but it is not a disgrace in any way parallel to the disgrace of disloyalty to his lord. And the heroic wife, when the men come to carry her away, is upheld through all the trying farewells by the consciousness that she is making as noble a sacrifice of herself as did the wife of Yamato Daké when she leaped into the sea to avert the wrath of the sea-god from her husband. The Japanese, both men and women, knowing this story and many others similar in character, can see, as we cannot from our point of view, that, even if the body be defiled, there is no defilement of the soul, for the woman is fulfilling her highest duty in sacrificing all, even her dearest possession, for the honor of her husband. It is a climax of self-abnegation that brings nothing but honor to the soul of her who reaches it. Japanese women who read this story feel profound pity for the poor wife, and a horror of a sacrifice that binds her to a life which outwardly, to the Japanese mind even, is the lowest depth a woman ever reaches. But they do not despise her for the act; nor would they refuse to receive her even were she to appear in living form to-day in any Japanese home, where, thanks to happier fortunes, such sacrifices are not demanded. Just at this point is the difference of moral perspective that foreigners visiting Japan find so hard to understand, and that leads many, who have lived in the country the longest, to believe that there is no modesty and purity among Japanese women. It is this that makes it possible for the vilest of stories, and those that have the least foundation in fact, to find easy belief among foreigners, even if they be told about the purest, most high-minded, and most honorable of Japanese women. Our maidens, as they grow to womanhood, are taught that anything is better than personal dishonor, and their maidenly instincts side with the teaching. With us, a virtuous woman does not mean a brave, a heroic, an unselfish, or self-sacrificing woman, but means simply one who keeps herself from personal dishonor. Chastity is the supreme virtue for a woman; all other virtues are secondary compared with it. This is our point of view, and the whole perspective is arranged with that virtue in the foreground. Dismiss this for a moment, and consider the moral training of the Japanese maiden. From earliest youth until she reaches maturity, she is constantly taught that obedience and loyalty are the supreme virtues, which must be preserved even at the sacrifice of all other and lesser virtues. She is told that for the good of father or husband she must be willing to meet any danger, endure any dishonor, perpetrate any crime, give up any treasure. She must consider that nothing belonging solely to herself is of any importance compared with the good of her master, her family, or her country. Place this thought of obedience and loyalty, to the point of absolute self-abnegation, in the foreground, and your perspective is altered, the other virtues occupying places of varying importance. Because a Japanese woman will sometimes sacrifice her personal virtue for the sake of father or husband, does it follow that all Japanese women are unchaste and impure? In many cases this sacrifice is the noblest that she believes possible, and she goes to it, as she would go to death in any dreadful form, for those whom she loves, and to whom she owes the duty of obedience. The Japanese maiden grows to womanhood no less pure and modest than our own girls, but our girls are never called upon to sacrifice their modesty for the sake of those whom they love best; nor is it expected of any woman in this country that she exist solely for the good of some one else, in whatever way he chooses to use her, during all the years of her life. Let us take this difference into our thought in forming our judgment, and let us rather seek the causes that underlie the actions than pass judgment upon the actions themselves. From a close study of the characters of many Japanese women and girls, I am quite convinced that few women in any country do their duty, as they see it, more nobly, more single-mindedly, and more satisfactorily to those about them, than the women of Japan.

Many argue that the purity of Japanese women, as compared with the men, the ready obedience which they yield, their sweet characters and unselfish devotion as wives and mothers, are merely the results of the restraint under which they live, and that they are too weak to be allowed to enjoy freedom of thought and action. Whether this be true or no is a point which we leave for others to take up, as time shall have provided new data for reasoning on the subject.

To me, the sense of duty seems to be strongly developed in the Japanese women, especially in those of the samurai class. Conscience seems as active, though often in a different manner, as the old-fashioned New England conscience, transmitted through the bluest of Puritan blood. And when a duty has once been recognized as such, no timidity, or mortification, or fear of ridicule will prevent the performance of it. A case comes to my mind now of a young girl of sixteen, who made public confession before her schoolmates of shortcomings of which none of them knew, for the sake of easing her troubled conscience and warning her schoolmates against similar errors. The circumstances were as follows: The young girl had recently lost her grandmother, a most loving and affectionate old lady, who had taken the place of a mother to the child from her earliest infancy. In a somewhat unhappy home, the love of the old grandmother was the one bright spot; and when she was taken away, the poor, lonely child's memory recalled all of her own shortcomings to this beloved friend; and, too late to make amendment to the old lady herself, she dwelt on her own undutifulness, and decided that she must by some means do penance, or make atonement for her fault. She might, if she made a confession before her schoolmates, warn them against similar mistakes; and accordingly she prepared, for the literary society in which the girls took what part they chose, a long confession, written in poetical style, and read it before her schoolmates and teachers. It was a terrible ordeal, as one could see by the blushing face and breaking voice, often choked with sobs; and when at the conclusion she urged her friends to behave in such a way to their dear ones that they need never suffer what she had had to endure since her grandmother's death, there was not a dry eye in the room, and many of the girls were sobbing aloud. It was a curious expiation and a touching one, but one not in the least exceptional or uncharacteristic of the spirit of duty that actuates the best women of the samurai class.

Here is another instance which illustrates this sense of duty, and desire of atoning for past mistakes or sins. At the time of the overthrow of the feudal system, the samurai, bred to loyalty to their own feudal superiors as their highest duty, found themselves ranged on different sides in the struggle, according to the positions in which their lords placed themselves. At the end of the struggle, those who had followed their daimiōs to the field, in defense of the Shōgunate, found that they had been fighting against the Emperor, the Son of Heaven himself, who had at last emerged from the seclusion of centuries to govern his own empire. Thus the supporters of the Shōgunate, while absolutely loyal to their daimiōs, had been disloyal to the higher power of the Emperor; and had put themselves in the position of traitors to their country. There was a conflict of principles there somewhat similar to that which took place in our Civil War, when, in the South, he who was true to his State became a traitor to his country, and he who was true to his country became a traitor to his State. Two ladies of the finest samurai type had, with absolute loyalty to a lost cause, aided by every means in their power in the defense of the city of Wakamatsu against the victorious forces of the Emperor. They had held on to the bitter end, and had been banished, with others of their family and clan, to a remote province, for some years after the end of the war. In , eleven years after the close of the War of the Restoration, a rebellion broke out in the south which required a considerable expenditure of blood and money for its suppression. When the new war began, these two ladies presented a petition to the government, in which they begged that they might be allowed to make amends for their former position of opposition to the Emperor, by going with the army to the field as hospital nurses. At that time, no lady in Japan had ever gone to the front to nurse the wounded soldiers; but to those two brave women was granted the privilege of making atonement for past disloyalty, by the exercise of the skill and nerve that they had gained in their experience of war against the Emperor, in the nursing of soldiers wounded in his defense.

In the old days, the women of the samurai class fulfilled most nobly the duties that fell to their lot. As wives and mothers in time of peace, they performed their work faithfully in the quiet of their homes; and, their time filled with household cares, they busied themselves with the smaller duties of life. As the wives and mothers of soldiers, they cultivated the heroic spirit befitting their position, fearing no danger save such as involved disgrace. As the home-guard in time of need, they stood ready to defend their master's possessions with their own lives; as gentlewomen and ladies-in-waiting at the court of the daimiō or the Shōgun, they cultivated the arts and accomplishments required for their position, and veiled the martial spirit that dwelt within them under an exterior as feminine, as gracious, as cultivated and charming, as that of any ladies of Europe or America. To-day in the new Japan, where the samurai have no longer their yearly allowance from their lords and their feudal duties, but, scattered through the whole nation, are engaged in all the arts and trades, and are infusing the old spirit into the new life, what are the women doing? As the government of the land to-day lies in the hands of the samurai men under the Emperor, so the progress of the women, the new ideas of work for women, are in the hands of the samurai women, led by the Empress. Wherever there is progress among the women, wherever they are looking about for new opportunities, entering new occupations, elevating the home, opening hospitals, industrial schools, asylums, there you will find the leading spirits always of the samurai class. In the recent changes, some of this class have risen above their former state and joined the ranks of the nobility; and there the presence of the samurai spirit infuses new life into the aristocracy. So, too, the changes that have raised some have lowered others, and the samurai is now to be found in the formerly despised occupations of trade and industry, among the merchants, the farmers, the fishermen, the artisans, and the domestic servants. But wherever his lot is cast, the old training, the old ideals, the old pride of family, still keep him separate from his present rank, and, instead of pulling him down to the level of those about him, tend to raise that level by the example of honor and intelligence that he sets. The changed fortunes were not met without a murmur. Most of the outrages, the reactionary movements, the riots and inflammatory speeches and writings, that characterized the long period of disquiet following the Restoration, came from men of this class, who saw their support taken from them, leaving them unable to dig and ashamed to beg. But the greater part of them went sturdily to work, in government positions if they could get them, in the army, on the police force, on the farm, in the shop, at trades, at service,—even to the humble work of wheeling a jinrikisha, if other honest occupation could not be found; and the women shared patiently and bravely the changed fortunes of the men, doing whatever they could toward bettering them. The samurai women to-day are eagerly working into the positions of teachers, interpreters, trained nurses, and whatever other places there are which may be honorably occupied by women. The girls' schools, both government and private, find many of their pupils among the samurai class; and their deference and obedience to their teachers and superiors, their ambition and keen sense of honor in the school-room, show the influence of the samurai feeling over new Japan. To the samurai women belongs the task—and they have already begun to perform it—of establishing upon a broader and surer foundation the position of women in their own country. They, as the most intelligent, will be the first to perceive the remedy for present evils, and will, if I mistake not, move heaven and earth, at some time in the near future, to have that remedy applied to their own case. Most of them read the literature of the day, some of them in at least one language beside their own; a few have had the benefit of travel abroad, and have seen what the home and the family are in Christian lands. There is as much of the unconquerable spirit of the samurai to-day in the women as in the men; and it will not be very long before that spirit will begin to show itself in working for the establishment of their homes and families upon some stronger basis than the will of the husband and father.




CHAPTER 9 - PEASANT WOMEN.

The great héimin class includes not only the peasants of Japan, but also the artisans and merchants; artisans ranking below farmers, and merchants below artisans, in the social structure. It includes the whole of the common people, except such as were in former times altogether below the level of respectability, the éta and hinin,—outcasts who lived by begging, slaughtering animals, caring for dead bodies, tanning skins, and other employments which rendered them unclean according to the old notions. From very early times the agricultural class has been sharply divided from the samurai or military. Here and there one from the peasantry mounts by force of his personal qualities into the higher ranks, for there is no caste system that prevents the passing from one class into another,—only a class prejudice that serves very nearly the same purpose, in keeping samurai and héimin in their places, that the race prejudice in this country serves in confining the negroes, North and South, to certain positions and occupations. The first division of the military from the peasantry occurred in the eighth century, and since then the peculiar circumstances of each class have tended to produce quite different characteristics in persons originally of the same stock. To the soldier class have fallen learning, skill in arms and horsemanship, opportunities to rise to places of honor and power, lives free from sordid care in regard to the daily rice, and in which noble ideas of duty and loyalty can spring up and bear fruit in heroic deeds. To the peasant, tilling his little rice-field year after year, have come the heavy burdens of taxation; the grinding toil for a mere pittance of food for himself and his family; the patient bearing of all things imposed by his superiors, with little hope of gain for himself, whatever change the fortunes of war may bring to those above him in the social scale. Is there wonder that, as the years have gone by, his wits have grown heavy under his daily drudgery; that he knows little and understands less of the changes that are taking place in his native land; that he is easily moved by only one thing, and that the failure of his crops, or the shortening of his returns from his land by heavier taxation? This is true of the héimin as a class: they are conservative, fearing that change will but tend to make harder a lot that is none too easy; and though peaceable and gentle usually, they may be moved to blind acts of riot and bloodshed by any political change that seems likely to produce heavier taxation, or even by a failure of their crops, when they see themselves and their families starving while the military and official classes have enough and to spare. But though, as a class, the farmers are ignorant and heavy, they are seldom entirely illiterate; and everywhere, throughout the country, one finds men belonging to this class who are well educated and have risen to positions of much responsibility and power, and are able to hold their own, and think for themselves and for their brethren. From an article in the "Tōkyō Mail," entitled "A Memorialist of the Latter Days of the Tokugawa Government," I quote passages which show the thoughts of one of the héimin upon the condition of his own class about the year . It is from a petition sent to the Shōgun by the head-man of the village of Ogushi.

The first point in the petition is, that there is a growing tendency to luxury among the military and official classes. "It is useless to issue orders commanding peasants and others to be frugal and industrious, when those in power, whose duty it is to show a good example to the people, are themselves steeped in luxury and idleness." He ventures to reproach the Shōguns themselves by pointing to the extravagance with which they have decorated the mausoleums at Nikkō and elsewhere. "Is this," he asks, "in keeping with the intentions of the glorious founder of your dynasty? Look at the shrines in Isé and elsewhere, and at the sepulchres of the Emperors of successive ages. Is gold or silver used in decorating them?" He then turns to the vassals of the Shōgun, and charges them with being tyrannical, rapacious, and low-minded. "Samurai," he continues,—"samurai are finely attired, but how contemptible they look in the eyes of those peasants who know how to be contented with what they have!"

Further on in the same memorial, he points out what he regards as a grave mistake in the policy of the Shōgun. A decree had just been issued prohibiting the peasantry from exercising themselves with sword-play, and from wearing swords. Of this he says: "Perhaps this decree may have been issued on the supposition that Japan is naturally impregnable and defended on all sides. But when she receives insult from a foreign country, it may become necessary to call on the militia. And who knows that men of extraordinary military genius, like Toyotomi, will not again appear among the lower classes?"

He ends his memorial with this warning: "Should the Shōgun's court, and the military class in general, persist in the present oppressive way of government, Heaven will visit this land with still greater calamities. If this circumstance is not clearly kept in view, the consequence may be civil disturbance. I, therefore, beseech that the instructions of the glorious founder of the dynasty be acted upon; that simplicity and frugality be made the guiding principle of administration; and that a general amnesty be proclaimed, thereby complying with the will of Heaven and placating the people. Should these humble suggestions of mine be acted upon, prospective calamities will fly before the light of virtue. Whether the country is to be safe or not depends upon whether the administration is carried on with mercy or not. What I pray for is, that the country may enjoy peace and tranquillity, that the harvest may be plentiful, and that the people may be happy and prosperous."

One is able to see, by this rather remarkable document, that the peasants of Japan, though frequently almost crushed by the heavy burdens of taxation, do not, even in the most grinding poverty, lose entirely that independence of thought and of action which is characteristic of their nation. They do not consider themselves as a servile class, nor their military rulers as beyond criticism or reproach, but are ready to speak boldly for their rights whenever an opportunity occurs. There is a pathetic story, told in Mitford's "Tales of Old Japan," of a peasant, the head-man of his village, who goes to Yedo to present to the Shōgun a complaint, on behalf of his fellow-villagers, of the extortions and exactions of his daimiō. He is unable to get any one to present his memorial to the Shōgun, so at last he stops the great lord's palanquin in the street,—an act in itself punishable with death,—and thrusts the paper forcibly into his hand. The petition is read, and his fellow-villagers saved from further oppression, but the head-man, for his daring, is condemned by his own daimiō to suffer death by crucifixion,—a fate which he meets with the same heroism with which he dared everything to save his fellows from suffering.

The peasant, though ignorant and oppressed, has not lost his manhood; has not become a slave or a serf, but clings to his rights, so far as he knows what they are; and is ready to hold his own against all comers, when the question in debate is one that appeals to his mind. The rulers of Japan have always the peasantry to reckon with when their ruling becomes unjust or oppressive. They cannot be cowed, though they may be misled for a time, and they form a conservative element that serves to hold in check too hasty rulers who would introduce new measures too quickly, and would be likely to find the new wine bursting the old bottles, as well as to prevent any rash extravagance in the way of personal expenditure on the part of government officials. The influence of this great class will be more and more felt as the new parliamentary institutions gain in power, and a more close connection is established between the throne and public opinion.

In considering this great héimin class, it is well to remember that the artisans, who form so large a part of it, are also the artists who have made the reputation of Japan, in Europe and America, as one of the countries where art and the love of beauty in form and color are still instinct with life. The Japanese artisan works with patient toil, and with the skill and originality of the artist, to produce something that shall be individual and his own; not simply to make, after a pattern, some utensil or ornament for which he cares nothing, so long as a purchaser can be found for it, or an employer can be induced to pay him money for making it. It seems as easy for the Japanese to make things pretty and in good taste, even when they are cheap and only used by the poorer people, as it is for American mills and workers to turn out endless varieties of attempts at decoration,—all so hideous that a poor person must be content, either to be surrounded by the worst possible taste, or to purchase only such furnishings and utensils as are entirely without decoration of any kind. "Cheap" and "nasty" have come to be almost synonymous words with us, for the reason that taste in decoration is so rare that it commands a monopoly price, and can only be procured by the wealthy. In Japan this is not the case, for the cheapest of things may be found in graceful and artistic designs,—indeed can hardly be found in any designs that are not graceful and artistic; and the poorest and commonest of the people may have about them the little things that go to cultivate the æsthetic part of human nature. It was not the costly art of Japan that interested me the most, although that is, of course, the most wonderful proof of the capacity and patience of individuals among this héimin class: but it was the common, cheap, every-day art that meets one at every turn; the love for the beautiful, in both nature and art, that belongs to the common coolie as well as to the nobleman. The cheap prints, the blue and white towels, the common teacups and pots, the great iron kettles in use over the fire in the farmhouse kitchen,—all these are things as pretty and tasteful in their way as the rich crêpes, the silver incense burners, the delicate porcelain, and the elegant lacquer that fill the storehouse of the daimiō; and they show, much more conclusively than these costlier things, the universal sense of beauty among the people.

The artisan works at his home, helped less often by hired laborers than by his own children, who learn the trade of their father; and his house, though small, is clean and tasteful, with its soft mats, its dainty tea service, its little hanging scroll upon the walls, and its vase of gracefully arranged flowers in the corner; for flowers, even in winter and in the great city of Tōkyō, are so cheap that they are never beyond the reach of the poorest. In homes that seem to the foreign mind utterly lacking in the comforts and even the necessities of life, one finds the few furnishings and utensils beautiful in shape and decoration; and the money that in this country must be spent in beds, tables, and chairs can be used for the purchase of kakémonos, flowers, and vases, and for various gratifications of the æsthetic taste. Hence it is that the Japanese laborer, who lives on a daily wage which would reduce an American or European to the verge of starvation, finds both time and money for the cultivation of that sense of beauty which is too often crushed completely out of the lower classes by the burdens of this nineteenth century civilization which they bear upon their shoulders. To the Japanese, the "life is more than meat," it is beauty as well; and this love of beauty has upon him a civilizing and refining effect, and makes him in many ways the superior of the American day-laborer.

The peasants and farmers of Japan, thrifty and hard-working as they are, are not by any means a prosperous class. As one passes into the country districts from the large cities, there seems to be a conspicuous dearth of neat, pleasant homes,—a lack of the comforts and necessities of life such as are enjoyed by city people. The rich farmers are scarce, and the laborers in the rice-fields hardly earn, from days of hardest toil with the rudest implements, the little that will provide for their families. In the face of heavy taxes, the incessant toil, the frequent floods of late years, and the threatening famine, one would expect the poor peasants to be a most discouraged and unhappy class. That all this toil and anxiety does wear on them is no doubt true, but the laborers are always ready to bear submissively whatever comes, and are always hopeful and prepared to enjoy life again in happier times. The charms of the city tempt them sometimes to exchange their daily labor for the excitement of life as jinrikisha men; but in any case they will be perfectly independent, and ask no man for their daily rations.

Although there is much poverty, there are few or no beggars in Japan, for both strong and weak find each some occupation that brings the little pittance required to keep soul and body together, and gives to all enough to make them light-hearted, cheerful, and even happy. From the rich farmer, whose many acres yield enough to provide for a home of luxury quite as fine as the city homes, to the poor little vender of sticks of candy, around whose store the children flock like bees with their rin and sen, all seem independent, contented, and satisfied with their lot in life.

The religious beliefs of old Japan are stronger to-day among the country people than among the dwellers in cities. And they are still willing to give of their substance for the aid of the dying faiths to which they cling, and to undertake toilsome pilgrimages to obtain some longed-for blessing from the gods whom they serve. A great Buddhist temple is being built in Kyōtō to-day, from the lofty ceiling of which hangs a striking proof of the devotion of some of the peasant women to the Buddhist faith. The whole temple, with its immense curved roof, its vast proportions, and its marvelous wood carvings, has been built by offerings of labor, money, and materials made by the faithful. The great timbers were given and brought to the spot by the countrymen; and the women, wishing to have some part in the sacred work, cut off their abundant hair, a beauty perhaps more prized by the Japanese women than by those of other countries, and from the material thus obtained they twisted immense cables, to be used in drawing the timbers from the mountains to the site of the temple. The great black cables hang in the unfinished temple to-day, a sign of the devotion of the women who spared not their chief ornament in the service of the gods in whom they still believe. And a close scrutiny of these touching offerings shows that the glossy black locks of the young women are mingled with the white hairs of those who, by this sacrifice, hope to make sure of a quick and easy departure from a life already near its close.

All along the Tōkaidō, the great road from Tōkyō to Kyōto, in the neighborhood of some holy place, or in the district around the great and sacred Fuji, the mountain so much beloved and honored in Japanese art, will be seen bands of pilgrims slowly walking along the road, their worn and soiled white garments telling of many days' weary march. Their large hats shield them from the sun and the rain, and the pieces of matting slung over their backs serve them for beds to sleep on, when they take shelter for the night in rude huts. The way up the great mountain of Fuji is lined with these pilgrims; for to attain its summit, and worship there the rising sun, is believed to be the means of obtaining some special blessing. Among these religious devotees, in costumes not unlike those of the men, under the same large hat and coarse matting, old women often are seen, their aged faces belying their apparent vigor of body, as they walk along through miles and miles of country, jingling their bells and holding their rosaries until they reach the shrine, where they may ask some special blessing for their homes, or fulfill some vow already made.

Journeying through rural Japan, one is impressed by the important part played by women in the various bread-winning industries. In the village homes, under the heavily thatched roofs, the constant struggle against poverty and famine will not permit the women to hold back, but they enter bravely into all the work of the men. In the rice-field the woman works side by side with the man, standing all day up to her knees in mud, her dress tucked up and her lower limbs encased in tight-fitting, blue cotton trousers, planting, transplanting, weeding, and turning over the evil-smelling mire, only to be distinguished from her husband by her broader belt tied in a bow behind. In mountain regions we meet the women climbing the steep mountain roads, pruning-hook in hand, after wood for winter fires; or descending, towards night, carrying a load that a donkey need not be ashamed of, packed on a frame attached to the shoulders, or poised lightly upon a straw mat upon the head. There is one village near Kyōto, Yasé by name, at the base of Hiyéi Zan, the historic Buddhist stronghold, where the women attain a stature and muscular development quite unique among the pigmy population of the island empire. Strong, jolly, red-cheeked women they are, showing no evidence of the shrinking away with the advance of old age that is characteristic of most of their countrywomen. With their tucked-up kimonos and blue cotton trousers, they stride up and down the mountain, carrying the heaviest and most unwieldy of burdens as lightly and easily as the ordinary woman carries her baby. My first acquaintance with them was during a camping expedition upon the sacred mountain. I myself was carried up the ascent by two small, nearly naked, finely tattooed and moxa-scarred men; but my baggage, consisting of two closely packed hampers as large as ordinary steamer trunks, was lifted lightly to the heads of these feminine porters, and, poised on little straw pads, carried easily up the narrow trail, made doubly difficult by low-hanging branches, to the camp, a distance of three or four miles. From among these women of Yasé, on account of their remarkable physical development, have been chosen frequently the nurses for the imperial infants; an honor which the Yasé villagers duly appreciate, and which makes them bear themselves proudly among their less favored neighbors.

In other parts of the country, in the neighborhood of Nikkō, for instance, the care of the horses, mild little pack-mares that do much of the burden-bearing in those mountains, is mainly in the hands of the women. At Nikkō, when we would hire ponies for a two days' expedition to Yumoto, a little, elderly woman was the person with whom our bargains were made; and a close bargainer she proved to be, taking every advantage that lay in her power. When the caravan was ready to start, we found that, though each saddle-horse had a male groom in attendance, the pack-ponies on which our baggage was carried were led by pretty little country girls of twelve or fourteen, their bright black eyes and red cheeks contrasting pleasantly with the blue handkerchiefs that adorned their heads; their slender limbs encased in blue cotton, and only their red sashes giving any hint of the fact that they belonged to the weaker sex. As we journeyed up the rough mountain roads, the little girls kept along easily with the rest of the party; leading their meek, shock-headed beasts up the slippery log steps, and passing an occasional greeting with some returning pack-train, in which the soft black eyes and bits of red about the costume of the little grooms showed that they, too, were mountain maidens, returning fresh and happy after a two days' tramp through the rocky passes.

In the districts where the silkworm is raised, and the silk spun and woven, the women play a most important part in this productive industry. The care of the worms and of the cocoons falls entirely upon the women, as well as the spinning of the silk and the weaving of the cloth. It is almost safe to say that this largest and most productive industry of Japan is in the hands of the women; and it is to their care and skill that the silk product of the islands is due. In the silk districts one finds the woman on terms of equality with the man, for she is an important factor in the wealth-producing power of the family, and is thus able to make herself felt as she cannot when her work is inferior to that of the men. As a farmer, as a groom, or as a porter, a woman is and must remain an inferior, but in the care of the silkworms, and all the tasks that belong to silk culture, she is the equal of the stronger sex.

Then, again, in the tea districts, the tea plantations are filled with young girls and old women, their long sleeves held back by a band over the shoulder, and a blue towel gracefully fastened over their heads to keep off the sun and the dust. They pick busily away at the green, tender leaves, which will soon be heated and rolled by strong men over the charcoal fire. The occupation is an easy one, only requiring care in the selection of leaves to be picked, and can be performed by young girls and old women, who gather the glossy leaves in their big baskets, while chatting to each other over the gossip and news of the day.

In the hotels, both in the country and the city, women play an important part. The attendants are usually sweet-faced, prettily dressed girls, and frequently the proprietor of the hotel is a woman. My first experience of a Japanese hotel was at Nara, anciently the capital of Japan, and now a place of resort because of its fine old temples, its Dai Butsu, and its beautiful deer park. The day's ride in jinrikisha from Ōsaka had brought our party in very tired, only to find that the hotel to which we had telegraphed for rooms was already filled to overflowing by a daimiō and his suite. Not a room could be obtained, and we were at last obliged to walk some distance, for we had dismissed our tired jinrikisha men, to a hotel in the village, of which we knew nothing. What with fatigue and disappointment, we were not prepared to view the unknown hotel in a very rosy light; and when our guide pointed to a small gate leading into a minute, damp courtyard, we were quite convinced that the hardships of travel in Japan were now about to begin; but disappointment gave way to hope, when we were met at the door by a buxom landlady, whose smile was in itself a refreshment. Although we had little in the way of language in common, she made us feel at home at once, took us to her best room, sent her blooming and prettily dressed daughters to bring us tea and whatever other refreshments the mysterious appetite of a foreigner might require, and altogether behaved toward us in such motherly fashion that fatigue and gloom departed forthwith, leaving us refreshed and cheerful. Soon we began to feel rested, and our kind friend, seeing this, took us upon a tour around the house, in which room after room, spotless, empty, with shining woodwork and softest of mats, showed the good housekeeping of our hostess. A little garden in the centre of the house, with dwarf trees, moss-covered stones, and running water, gave it an air of coolness on the hot July day that was almost deceptive; and the spotless wash-room, with its great stone sink, its polished brass basins, its stone well-curb, half in and half out of the house, was cool and clean and refreshing merely to look at. A two days' stay in this hotel showed that the landlady was the master of the house. Her husband was about the house constantly, as were one or two other men, but they all worked under the direction of the energetic head of affairs. She it was who managed everything, from the cooking of the meals in the kitchen to the filling and heating of the great bath-tub into which the guests were invited to enter every afternoon, one after the other, in the order of their rank. On the second night of my stay, at a late hour, when I supposed that the whole house had retired to rest, I crept softly out of my room to try to soothe the plaintive wails of my dog, who was complaining bitterly that he was made to sleep in the wood-cellar instead of in his mistress's room, as his habit had always been. As I stole quietly along, fearing lest I should arouse the sleeping house, I heard the inquiring voice of my landlady sound from the bath-room, the door of which stood wide open. Afraid that she would think me in mischief if I did not show myself, I went to the door, to find her, after her family was safely stowed away for the night, taking her ease in the great tub of hot water, and so preparing herself for a sound, if short, night's sleep. She accepted my murmured Inu (dog) as an excuse, and graciously dismissed me with a smile, and I returned to my room feeling safe under the vigilant care that seemed to guard the house by night as well as by day. I have seen many Japanese hotels and many careful landladies since, but no one among them all has made such an impression as my pleasant hostess at Nara.

Not only hotels, but little tea-houses all through Japan, form openings for the business abilities of women, both in country and city. Wherever you go, no matter how remote the district or how rough the road, at every halting point you find a tea-house. Sometimes it is quite an extensive restaurant, with several rooms for the entertainment of guests, and a regular kitchen where fairly elaborate cooking can be done; sometimes it is only a rough shelter, at one end of which water is kept boiling over a charcoal brazier, while at the other end a couple of seats, covered with mats or a scarlet blanket or two, serve as resting-places for the patrons of the establishment. But whatever the place is, there will be one woman or more in attendance; and if you sit down upon the mats, you will be served at once with tea, and later, should you require more, with whatever the establishment can afford,—it may be only a slice of watermelon, or a hard pear; it may be eels on rice, vermicelli, egg soup, or a regular dinner, should the tea-house be one of the larger and more elaborately appointed ones. When the feast is over, the refreshments you have especially ordered are paid for in the regular way; but for the tea and sweetmeats offered, for which no especial charge is made, you are expected to leave a small sum as a present. In the less aristocratic resting-places, a few cents for each person is sufficient to leave on the waiter with the empty cups of tea, for which loud and grateful thanks will be shouted out to the retiring party.

In the regular inn, the chadai amounts to several dollars, for a party remaining any time, and it is supposed to pay for all the extra services and attention bestowed on guests by the polite host and hostess and the servants in attendance. The chadai, done up neatly in paper, with the words On chadai written on it, is given with as much formality as any present in Japan. The guest claps his hands to summon the maid. When it is heard, for the thin paper walls of a Japanese house let through every noise, voices from all sides will shout out Hē´-hē´, or Hai, which means that you have been heard, and understood. Presently a maid will softly open your door, and with head low down will ask what you wish. You tell her to summon the landlord. In a few moments he appears, and you push the chadai to him, making some conventional self-depreciating speech, as, "You have done a great deal for our comfort, and we wish to give you this chadai, though it is only a trifle." The landlord, with every expression of surprise, will bow down to the ground with thanks, raising the small package to his head in token of acceptance and gratitude, and will murmur in low tones how little he has done for the comfort of his guests; and then, the self-depreciation and formal words of thanks on his side being ended, he will finally go down stairs to see how much he has gotten. But, whether more or less than he had expected, nothing but extreme gratitude and politeness appears on his face as he presents a fan, confectionery, or some trifle, as a return for the chadai, and speeds the parting guests with his lowest bow and kindliest smile, after having seen to every want that could be attended to.

Once, at Nikkō, I started with a friend for a morning walk to a place described in the guide-book. The day was hot and the guide-book hazy, and we lost the road to the place for which we had set out, but found ourselves at last in a beautiful garden, with a pretty lake in its centre, a little red-lacquered shrine reflected in the lake, and a tea-house hospitably open at one side. The teakettle was boiling over the little charcoal fire; melons, eggs, and various unknown comestibles were on the little counter; but no voice bade us welcome as we approached, and when we sat down on the edge of the piazza, we could see no one within the house. We waited, however, for the day was hot, and time is not worth much in rural Japan. Pretty soon a small, wizened figure made its appearance in the distance, hurrying and talking excitedly as it came near enough to see two foreign ladies seated upon the piazza. Many bows and profuse apologies were made by the little old woman, who seemed to be the solitary occupant of the pretty garden, and who had for the moment deserted her post to do the day's marketing in the neighboring village. The apologies having been smilingly received, the old lady set herself to the task of making her guests comfortable. First she brought two tumblers of water, cold as ice, from the spring that gushed out of a great rock in the middle of the little lake. Then she retired behind a screen and changed her dress, returning speedily to bring us tea. Then she retreated to her diminutive kitchen, and presently came back smiling, bearing eight large raw potatoes on a tray. These she presented to us with a deep bow, apparently satisfied that she had at last brought us something we would be sure to like. We left the potatoes behind us when we went away, and undoubtedly the old lady is wondering still over the mysterious ways of the foreigners, as we are over those of the Japanese tea-house keepers.

One summer, when I was spending a week at a Japanese hotel at quite a fashionable seaside resort, I became interested in a little old woman who visited the hotel daily, carrying, suspended by a yoke from her shoulders, two baskets of fruit, which she sold to the guests of the hotel. As I was on the ground floor, and my room was, in the daytime, absolutely without walls on two sides, she was my frequent visitor, and, for the sake of her pleasant ways and cheerful smiles, I bought enough hard pears of her to have given the colic to an elephant. One day, after her visit to me, as I was sitting upon the matted and roofed square that served me for a room, my eye wandered idly toward the bathing beach, and, under the slight shelter where the bathers were in the habit of depositing their sandals and towels, I spied the well-known yoke and fruit baskets, as well as a small heap of blue cotton garments that I knew to be the clothing of the little fruit-vender. She had evidently taken a moment when trade was slack to enjoy a dip in the soft, blue, summer sea. Hardly had I made up my mind as to the meaning of the fruit baskets and the clothing, when our little friend herself emerged from the sea and, sitting down on a bench, proceeded to rub herself off with the small but artistically decorated blue towel that every peasant in Japan has always with him, however lacking he may be in all other appurtenances of the toilet. As she sat there, placidly rubbing away, a friend of the opposite sex made his appearance on the scene. I watched to see what she would do, for the Japanese code of etiquette is quite different from ours in such a predicament. She continued her employment until he was quite close, showing no unseemly haste, but continuing her polishing off in the same leisurely manner in which she had begun it; then at the proper moment she rose from her seat, bowed profoundly, and smilingly exchanged the greetings proper for the occasion, both parties apparently unconscious of any lack in the toilet of the lady. The male friend then passed on about his business; the little woman completed her toilet without further interruptions, shouldered her yoke, and jogged cheerfully on to her home in the little village, a couple of miles away.

As one travels through rural Japan in summer and sees the half-naked men, women, and children that pour out from every village on one's route and surround the kuruma at every stopping place, one sometimes wonders whether there is in the country any real civilization, whether these half-naked people are not more savage than civilized; but when one finds everywhere good hotels, scrupulous cleanliness in all the appointments of toilet and table, polite and careful service, honest and willing performance of labor bargained for, together with the gentlest and pleasantest of manners, even on the part of the gaping crowd that shut out light and air from the traveling foreigner who rests for a moment at the village inn, one is forced to reconsider a judgment formed only upon one peculiarity of the national life, and to conclude that there is certainly a high type of civilization in Japan, though differing in many important particulars from our own. A careful study of the Japanese ideas of decency, and frequent conversation with refined and intelligent Japanese ladies upon this subject, has led me to the following conclusion. According to the Japanese standard, any exposure of the person that is merely incidental to health, cleanliness, or convenience in doing necessary work, is perfectly modest and allowable; but an exposure, no matter how slight, that is simply for show, is in the highest degree indelicate. In illustration of the first part of this conclusion, I would refer to the open bath-houses, the naked laborers, the exposure of the lower limbs in wet weather by the turning up of the kimono, the entirely nude condition of the country children in summer, and the very slight clothing that even adults regard as necessary about the house or in the country during the hot season. In illustration of the last part, I would mention the horror with which many Japanese ladies regard that style of foreign dress which, while covering the figure completely, reveals every detail of the form above the waist, and, as we say, shows off to advantage a pretty figure. To the Japanese mind it is immodest to want to show off a pretty figure. As for the ball-room costumes, where neck and arms are freely exposed to the gaze of multitudes, the Japanese woman, who would with entire composure take her bath in the presence of others, would be in an agony of shame at the thought of appearing in public in a costume so indecent as that worn by many respectable American and European women. Our judgment would indeed be a hasty one, should we conclude that the sense of decency is wanting in the Japanese as a race, or that the women are at all lacking in the womanly instinct of modesty. When the point of view from which they regard these matters is once obtained, the apparent inconsistencies and incongruities are fully explained, and we can do justice to our Japanese sister in a matter in regard to which she is too often cruelly misjudged.

There seems no doubt at all that among the peasantry of Japan one finds the women who have the most freedom and independence. Among this class, all through the country, the women, though hard-worked and possessing few comforts, lead lives of intelligent, independent labor, and have in the family positions as respected and honored as those held by women in America. Their lives are fuller and happier than those of the women of the higher classes, for they are themselves bread-winners, contributing an important part of the family revenue, and they are obeyed and respected accordingly. The Japanese lady, at her marriage, lays aside her independent existence to become the subordinate and servant of her husband and parents-in-law, and her face, as the years go by, shows how much she has given up, how completely she has sacrificed herself to those about her. The Japanese peasant woman, when she marries, works side by side with her husband, finds life full of interest outside of the simple household work, and, as the years go by, her face shows more individuality, more pleasure in life, less suffering and disappointment, than that of her wealthier and less hard-working sister.