The Empire of the East
by H. B. Montgomery
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First Published in 1908.


On my return from another visit to Japan a few months ago I found those persons in this country with whom I was brought into close association extremely curious and strangely ignorant regarding that ancient Empire. Despite the multitude of books which have of late years been published about Japan and things Japanese a correct knowledge of the country and the people is, so far as I can judge, altogether lacking in England. Indeed the multiplicity of books may have something to do with that fact, as many of them have been written by persons whose knowledge, acquired in the course of a flying visit, was, to say the least, perfunctory, and who had no opportunities for viewing the life of the people from within and forming a sound judgment on many matters upon which the writers have dogmatically pronounced. I, accordingly, came to the conclusion not only that there was room for one more book on Japan, but that another book was greatly needed—a book not technical, historical, abstruse or recondite, but a book describing in simple language Japan as it was, is, and will be. This is the task I set before myself when I commenced to write this volume, and the reader must be the judge to what extent I have been successful in the accomplishment thereof. I have touched but lightly on the material development of the country of recent years. I know from experience that though statistics are the fad of a few they are caviare to the great mass of the public. Nor have I dealt at all with politics or political parties in new Japan. It is, I think, unfortunate that the Japanese people, in adopting or adapting English institutions, should have introduced the political party system so much in evidence in Great Britain and other European countries. Whether that system works well in the West, where it has been in existence for centuries and is not always taken over-seriously by party politicians themselves, is a question upon which I shall express no opinion. But I think it is problematical whether such a system is well adapted for an Oriental people, possessed of and permeated by an ancient civilisation—a people whose feelings, sentiments, modes of thought, prejudices and passions are so essentially different from those of Western nations. Be that as it may, Japanese politics find no place in this work.

The morality or otherwise of the Japanese is a matter which has been much discussed and written about. The views of speakers and writers in regard thereto, so far as I have been able to ascertain them, have been largely affected by their prejudices or the particular standpoint from which they have regarded the matter. The result, in my opinion, has been that an entirely erroneous conception of the whole subject of Japanese morality has not only been formed but has been set forth in speech or writing, and a grave injustice has been done to the Japanese in this matter, to say nothing of the entirely false view of the whole question which has been promulgated. In this book I have endeavoured to deal with this thorny subject, so far as it can be dealt with in a book, free from prejudice or preconceived ideas of any kind. I have simply confined myself to facts, and have endeavoured to represent the whole matter as it appears to the Japanese and to morality according to the Japanese standard.

I have deemed it necessary to deal at some length with the various phases of Japanese art, which it is no exaggeration to say has permeated the whole nation so that the Japanese may truthfully be termed the most artistic people in the world. Of course it is impossible to deal exhaustively in a work of this kind with Japanese art. I have, however, endeavoured to describe the principal art industries of the country and to set forth what I may term the catholicity of art in Japan. I have also dealt with the question how far art has been affected by the Europeanising of the nation which has taken place of recent years, and the effect thereof.

The religion of the Japanese, the Constitution, the home life of the people, the Army and Navy, the financial position of the country are all subjects treated as fully as possible, inasmuch as they are matters essential to be understood in order to realise the Japan of to-day. The Japan of the future I have attempted to forecast in two final chapters.

But the Japan of to-day and the Japan of the future can neither be understood nor realised unless the reader have in his mind some idea as to the Japan of the past—not the barbaric or uncivilised Japan brought into contact with civilisation and suddenly discarding its barbarism, which is, I fear, the conception many persons still have, but, as I have sought to show, a highly civilised country holding itself aloof from European influences and excluding, so long as possible, the European invasion of its shores just because it had convinced itself by painful experience that European ideas and manners and methods were undesirable and unsuitable for a great island nation which possessed and cherished a civilisation of its own, had high artistic ideas and ideals, had its own code of morals, its own conception of chivalry, and was, on the whole, undoubtedly happy, contented, and prosperous. I trust the chapter I have written on this subject will tend to dispel many erroneous ideas.

The book is the result of my own investigations, and the opinions expressed therein are entirely my own. I have, however, read nearly every work on Japan that has appeared in recent years, and when the views put forward in any of these have not coincided with my own I have endeavoured, by impartial investigation and inquiry, to arrive at a correct conclusion in the matter. No doubt some of my views and opinions will be questioned and criticised, but I claim to have written this book with a mind free from prejudices of any kind. I have sought to depict Japan as it really is, not the Japan seen through glasses of various colours, of which, I think, the public has had enough.

H. B. M.





























A STAR OF THE EAST Frontispiece From a Print by Toshikata


A CHERRY BLOSSOM PARTY 48 From a Print by Hiroshige

STREET SCENE ON NEW YEAR'S DAY 72 From a Print by Hiroshige

RICE PLANTING, PROVINCE OF HOKI 89 From a Print by Hiroshige

AMATEUR CONCHOLOGISTS 110 From a Print by Hiroshige

VIEW OF FUSI-YAMA FROM A TEA HOUSE 138 From a Print by Hiroshige




TEA HOUSE, NEAR TOKIO 170 From a Print by Hiroshige


A LABOUR OF LOVE 198 From a Print by Toshikata

THE ETERNAL FEMININE 218 From a Print by Toshikata

A MINISTERING ANGEL 242 From a Print by Toshikata

FIREWORKS IN TOKIO (SUMMER) 264 From a Print by Hiroshige





I have seen it stated in a popular handbook that Japan possesses a written history extending over two thousand five hundred years, while its sovereigns have formed an unbroken dynasty since 660 B.C., but that the "authentic history begins about 400 A.D." "Authentic history" is, I consider, not a very apt phrase in this connection. Most Japanese history is legendary, and authenticity in history, Japanese or European, even much later than 400 A.D., is hopeless to look for. I have no intention of leading my readers into, as I should find a difficulty in extricating them from, the mazes of Japanese history at any date. I simply propose to give them a glimpse of Japan as it has appeared to Europeans since it was first "discovered" by three storm-tossed Portuguese sailors about the year 1542. I say "discovered" with full knowledge of the fact that Marco Paolo, as early as 1275, dictated to a friend when imprisoned at Genoa that stirring narrative, "Maravigliose Cose," which, by the way, was not printed for nearly two centuries later. That narrative was read by and, it is stated, so fired the imagination of Christopher Columbus as to lead him to set out on that voyage of exploration which ended in the discovery of America. Marco Paolo's narrative must, however, be received with caution. I regard it as largely legendary. He never himself visited Japan, and his glowing description of the "Isles washed by stormy seas and abounding in gold and pearls" was founded on what he had been told by the Chinese he had met during his Eastern travels.

The commencement of European intercourse with Japan may, as I have said, be taken to be 1542, when three Portuguese adventurers in a Chinese junk were driven by stress of weather on a part of the Japanese coast under the authority of the Prince of Bungo. The Portuguese were kindly received by the natives, and a treaty or arrangement seems to have been entered into whereby a Portuguese vessel was to be annually despatched to Japan laden with "woollen cloths, furs, silks, taffetas," and other articles. Some years later a Japanese noble, Hansiro by name, murdered another Japanese and fled the country. He found his way to Goa, where he came under the influence of some Portuguese priests, and was eventually converted to Christianity and baptized. He was, if the records of his career are correct, desirous to bring to his fellow-countrymen not only the knowledge of the Christian religion but many articles of European commerce. The great Apostle of the East and disciple of Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, had then recently arrived in Goa, where he appears to have taken up with ardour the project of converting Japan. Both enterprises, the material and the spiritual, seem to have been organised about the same time. A ship was loaded with articles likely to be in demand in Japan, and Francis Xavier embarked in another vessel, with the Japanese refugee and a number of Jesuit priests as missionaries.

The vessels in due course arrived at Bungo, and both priests and traders were cordially, not to say enthusiastically, received. Foreigners were evidently not then excluded from Japan, and no objection whatever was made to the Christian propaganda in any part of the country. The efforts of the Jesuit missionaries were crowned with remarkable success. All ranks and classes, from priest to peasant, embraced the Catholic faith. Churches, schools, convents, and monasteries sprang up all over the country. The only opposition came from the Bonzes, or native priests, who felt their influence and power declining. They appealed to the Emperor to banish the Roman Catholic priests, but the imperial edict simply was, "Leave the strangers in peace." For forty years or thereabouts Catholicism not only flourished but was triumphant. Indeed, a Japanese mission of three princes was despatched to Pope Gregory XIII. laden with valuable presents. The arrival of this mission was acclaimed as a veritable triumph throughout Catholic Europe. By a stroke of irony its advent there was almost contemporaneous with not only the overthrow but the almost total extinction of Christianity in Japan. The edict for the banishment of the missionaries was published in 1587. It was followed by persecutions, martyrdoms, and the rasing of all the Christian churches and buildings—the destruction, in a word, of Christianity in Japan. This was in due course followed by not only the expulsion of all foreigners from the country—with the exception of the Dutch, who were allowed to have a factory at Nagasaki—but the enactment of a law, rigidly observed for two and a half centuries, that no Japanese should leave his country on any pretence whatever, and no foreigner be permitted to land therein. Prior to this edict the Japanese had been enterprising sailors and had extended their voyages to many distant lands. What, it might be asked, was the reason of or occasion for this violent change in the attitude of the Japanese to Christianity and the presence of Europeans in their midst? It is impossible, at this length of time, to arrive at a correct answer to this question, largely mixed up as it has been with the odium theologicum. We have been told that the result was greatly or altogether due to the pride, arrogance, and avarice of the Roman Catholic priests; to the pretensions of the Pope, which came to be regarded with suspicion by the feudatory princes of Japan, as also to the cupidity and cunning of the traders. How far any or all of these alleged causes were responsible for the change in Japanese opinion I shall not venture to pronounce. Suffice it to remark that, whatever the cause, there must have been some powerful, impelling influence at work to induce the nation not only to cast out the stranger within its gates, but to exclude him for two and a half centuries, and veto any inhabitant of Japan leaving its shores and thus being brought into contact with, and stand the chance of being contaminated by, the foreigner. We may regret the destruction of Christianity in Japan, but at the same time we may, I think, accept the fact that the uprising of Japan against the foreigner at the close of the sixteenth century was simply the result of the gorge which had arisen in the nation against the foreigner's manners, methods, and morals, his trampling underfoot of national prejudices and ideas, his cupidity, his avarice, his cruelty, his attempt to impose on Japanese civilisation a veneer which it did not desire and deemed it was much better without. It must be remembered that the missionaries and the traders had a common nationality, and that the Japan of the sixteenth century did not find it possible to differentiate between them.

Down to the nineteenth century we have to rely for our knowledge of Japan and the Japanese on the narratives of the few travellers who managed to visit that country more or less by stealth, or from the information derived from Europeans serving in the Dutch factory at Nagasaki. Every Englishman has heard of Will Adams and his Japanese wife, but though his career was romantic and interesting it has added but little to our knowledge of Japan at the time of his visit thereto. In 1727 Dr. Kaemfer's work on Japan was published. Kaemfer had been physician to the Dutch factory at Nagasaki, and, accordingly, had some opportunities of studying Japanese life and character. His book in the original form is rare, but I am glad to say that a cheap edition, a reprint of the English edition produced by the Royal Society in 1727, has recently been published in this country. Kaemfer's work is spoiled and its utility or reliability largely impaired by the fanciful theories put forward by the author respecting the origin of the Japanese. Much of his information is, of course, mere hearsay, and a great deal of it, by the light of what we now know, is not only misleading but nonsensical. A considerable amount of space is devoted by Kaemfer to chimerical animals, and he dilates upon the awful sanctity that surrounds the person of the Emperor. "There is," he remarks, "such a Holiness ascribed to all the parts of his Body that he dares not cut off neither his hair, nor his beard, nor his nails. However, lest he should grow too dirty, they may clean him in the night when he is asleep; because they say that what is taken from his Body at that time had been stolen from him, and that such a theft does not prejudice his Holiness or Dignity." In a notice of this new edition of Kaemfer's work I have seen it asserted that the book is the foundation of nearly all that was known or written of Japan till the last twenty-five years. How such a statement as this came to be published I quite fail to comprehend. There was plenty of literature in reference to Japan far more reliable than Kaemfer's whimsical "yarns" at a much earlier period than twenty-five years back. Sir Rutherford Alcock's "The Capital of the Tycoon" was, I think, published in 1863. Sir Rutherford was the first resident British Minister in Japan, and his book remains a stirring and, making allowance for the author's prejudices on various matters, on the whole a vivid picture of Japan as it was in the early sixties. Alcock's book was followed by many others, and twenty-five years ago the world was so far from being dependent on Kaemfer for its knowledge of Japan that, as I have said, it had even then quite a library of recent and reliable books in regard to that country.

Following Kaemfer, a little later in the eighteenth century, a Swedish physician, Thunberg by name, who also had been attached to the Dutch factory at Nagasaki, wrote a book undoubtedly interesting and of great value. That country, he remarks, is "in many respects a singular country, and with regard to customs and institutions totally different from Europe, or, I had almost said, from any other part of the world. Of all the nations that inhabit the three largest parts of the globe, the Japanese deserve to rank the first, and to be compared with the Europeans; and although in many points they must yield the palm to the latter, yet in various other respects they may with great justice be preferred to them. Here, indeed, as well as in other countries, are found both useful and pernicious establishments, both rational and absurd institutions; yet still we must admire the steadiness which constitutes the national character, the immutability which reigns in the administration of their laws and in the exercise of their public functions, the unwearied assiduity of this nation to do and to promote what is useful, and a hundred other things of a similar nature. That so numerous a people as this should love so ardently and so universally (without even a single exception to the contrary) their native country, their Government, and each other—that the whole country should be, as it were, enclosed, so that no native can get out, nor foreigner enter in, without permission—that their laws should have remained unaltered for several thousand years—and that justice should be administered without partiality or respect of persons—that the Governments can neither become despotic nor evade the laws in order to grant pardons or do other acts of mercy—that the monarch and all his subjects should be clad alike in a particular national dress—that no fashions should be adopted from abroad, nor new ones invented at home—that no foreign war should have been waged for centuries past—that a great variety of religious sects should live in peace and harmony together—that hunger and want should be almost unknown, or at least known but seldom,—all this must appear improbable, and to many as impossible as it is strictly true, and deserving of the utmost attention." He goes on to say, "If the laws in this country are rigid, the police are equally vigilant, while discipline and good order are scrupulously observed. The happy consequences of this are extremely visible and important, for hardly any country exhibits fewer instances of vice. And as no respect whatever is paid to persons, and at the same time the laws preserve their pristine and original purity, without any alterations, explanations, and misconstructions, the subjects not only imbibe, as they grow up, an infallible knowledge of what ought or ought not to be done, but are likewise enlightened by the example and irreproachable conduct of their superiors in age.

"Most crimes are punished with death—a sentence which is inflicted with less regard to the magnitude of the crime than to the audacity of the attempt to transgress the hallowed laws of the empire, and to violate justice, which together with religion they consider as the most sacred things in the whole land. Fines and pecuniary mulcts they regard as equally repugnant to justice and reason, as the rich are thereby freed from all punishment—a procedure which to them appears the height of absurdity.

"In the towns it often happens that the inhabitants of a whole street are made to suffer for the malpractice of a single individual, the master of a house for the faults of his domestics, and parents for those of their children, in proportion to the share they may have had in the transaction. In Europe, which boasts a purer religion and a more enlightened philosophy, we very rarely see those punished who have debauched and seduced others, never see parents and relatives made to suffer for neglecting the education of their children and kindred, at the same time that these heathens see the justice and propriety of such punishment." Dealing with agriculture, the Swedish physician remarked: "Agriculture is in the highest esteem with the Japanese, insomuch that (the most barren and untractable mountains excepted) one sees here the surface of the earth cultivated all over the country, and most of the mountains and hills up to their very tops. Neither rewards nor encouragements are necessary in a country where the tillers of the ground are considered as the most useful class of citizens and where they do not groan under various oppressions, which in other countries have hindered, and ever must hinder, the progress of agriculture. The duties paid by the farmer of his corn in kind are indeed very heavy, but in other respects he cultivates his land with greater freedom than the lord of a manor in Sweden. He is not hindered two days together at a time, in consequence of furnishing relays of horses, by which he perhaps earns a groat and often returns with the loss of his horses; he is not dragged from his field and plough to transport a prisoner or a deserter to the next castle; nor are his time and property wasted in making roads, building bridges, almshouses, parsonage-houses, and magazines. He knows nothing of the impediments and inconveniences which attend the maintenance and equipments of horses and foot soldiers. And what contributes still more to his happiness, and leaves sufficient scope for his industry in cultivating his land is this—that he has only one master, viz., his feudal lord, without being under the commands of a host of masters, as with us. No parcelling out of the land forbids him to improve to the least advantage the portion he possesses, and no right of commonage, belonging to many, prevents each from deriving profit from his share. All are bound to cultivate their land, and if a husbandman cannot annually cultivate a certain portion of his fields he forfeits them, and another who can is at liberty to cultivate them. Meadows are not to be met with in the whole country; on the contrary, every spot of ground is made use of either for corn-fields or else for plantations of esculent-rooted vegetables: so that the land is neither wasted upon extensive meadows for the support of cattle and saddle-horses, nor upon large and unprofitable plantations of tobacco; nor is it sown with seed for any other still less necessary purpose; which is the reason that the whole country is very thickly inhabited and populous, and can without difficulty give maintenance to all its innumerable inhabitants."

Let us now take a step, a long step, forward in time from the Swedish physician relating his impressions in the seventeenth century, to an American in the eighteenth century delivering his opinions on Japan and the Japanese as viewed from the American standpoint at that period. "The sitter is the same, and, what is more, he sits on his heels to-day just as his grandfather did to Thunberg, yet it is hard to see any points of resemblance—a lesson to all theologians and politicians who still indulge the dreams that uniformity of opinion on the plainest matters of fact and observation can ever be attained among men, however honest and conscientious they may be in their efforts after unity. The Chinese proverb with more wisdom declares, 'Truth is one, but opinions are many.'

"All officials serve in pairs, as spies upon each other, and this pervades the entire polity of Japan. It is a government of espionage. Everybody is watched. No man knows who are the secret spies around him, even though he may be and is acquainted with those that are official. The emperors themselves are not exempt; governors, grand councillors, vassal princes, all are under the eye of an everlasting unknown police. This wretched system is even extended to the humblest of the citizens. Every town is divided into collections of five families, and every member of such a division is personally responsible for the conduct of the others; everything which occurs, therefore, out of the ordinary course in any one of these is instantly reported by the other four to save themselves from censure. The Ziogoon (Tycoon) has his minions about the Mikado and the Grand Council have theirs about the Ziogoon. And the cowardice engendered by such ceaseless distrust necessarily leads to cruelty in penalties. When an official has offended, or even when in his department there has been any violation of law, although beyond his power of prevention, so sure is he of the punishment of death, that he anticipates it by ripping up his own body rather than be delivered over to the executioner and entailing disgrace and ruin on all his family. There cannot under such a system be anything like judicious legislation founded on enquiry and adapted to the ever-varying circumstances of life. As Government functionaries they lie and practise artifice to save themselves from condemnation by the higher powers: it is their vocation. As private gentlemen they are frank, truthful, and hospitable."

Taking a further step and coming down to the year 1877, I have before me, as I write, the private letter of a naval officer of an impressionable age visiting Japan for the first time and giving his opinions thereof, at a period when Japan was just beginning to feel really at work the distinct influences of Western civilisation—the beginning, in fact, of the extraordinary metamorphosis which has been witnessed of recent years. He remarks: "Probably to the traveller seeking the marvellous and desiring the beautiful, there is no more interesting country to pay a visit to than Japan. In something under a decade that country astonished, and, at first, rather amused the civilised world by emerging from the acme of barbarism to the extremes of civilisation. It was but a very few years ago that a foreigner could not land in the country unless accompanied by a Government escort. But now that is all changed. The foreigner is welcomed, his habits and religion are not alone tolerated but respected; his dress is copied to an extreme that indeed proves imitation to be the sincerest flattery, and but for the olive complexion, flat nose and dark hair, a Japanese gentleman of the period is very little different from his English contemporary. There is a tendency I find among a good many persons, whose ideas on the subject of race and geography are slightly mixed, to confound the Japanese with the Chinese, and to imagine that the two names indicate no greater difference than at present exist between an Englishman and an Irishman. The fact, however, is that a greater difference exists among these two nationalities than can be either imagined or described, and, considering their contiguity, it is indeed surprising that they have scarcely a habit or a pursuit in common. The mind of the modern Japanese is progressive and acquisitive. The mind of the Chinaman of the nineteenth century, as far as he allows it to be seen, is as torpid and retrogressive as his ancestors of the Confucian period.

"Up to the year 1868 Japan was governed jointly by a Tycoon and a Mikado together with a council of the Daimios, or great feudal princes, in whose hands all real power rested. The spiritual sovereign was the Mikado, nominally the chief ruler, the Tycoon being considered his first subject. All enactments required his sanction. The office of the Tycoon was hereditary and he gradually absorbed all the powers of the State. In 1868 a revolution occurred which culminated in the overthrow of the spiritual head and the seating of the Tycoon on the throne as an hereditary prince with the title of Mikado. There is now no such person as a Tycoon in Japan. The insurrection of 1868 also saw the downfall of the Daimios or feudal princes of Japan. These princes had each standing armies of their own, and administered justice in their own territories. Their retainers were the famous two-sworded men so long a terror to Europeans, and who strongly objected to any intercourse with foreigners, probably foreseeing its inevitable result. In 1868 the whole of these ferocious men were disarmed, and a standing army modelled on the French fashion established for the defence of the Empire. The Japanese Navy was organised about the same time by an English officer, and at first consisted of a few obsolete American and English men-of-war. That, however, is now a thing of the past, the Japanese Government having during the past few years spent many millions in purchasing modern ironclads and other vessels of the most approved type, and the Japanese Navy bids fair before long to become a power in the Far East.

"Concerning the oft-debated question of Japanese morality I can say little. Their ideas on the subject are, to put it mildly, somewhat lax, and would no doubt shock any one strongly imbued with morality as it is in vogue (theoretically) in European countries. That there is not that privacy between the sexes which prevails in other countries may be indicated by the fact that men and women make their ablutions together in the public wash-houses. Nevertheless the Japanese have a code of morality peculiar to themselves, and any infidelity on the part of a woman to her husband is punished with severity.

"The great drawback to the prosperity of Japan is a matter that prevails in some more ancient civilised lands, viz., an enormous issue of paper-money. Young Japan, finding it easy to print notes to pay its obligations, printed them to the extent of twenty millions sterling in all sizes from 5 cents to 100 dollars. The consequence is that this paper-money has depreciated in value to the extent of 15 per cent. The Government, however, have seen their mistake, and are gradually calling it in, and have established a very fine mint with a gold and silver coinage. Insurrections have also been a drag on Japan in its progress. The Prince of Satsuma, one of the most powerful of the ancient Daimios, has never acknowledged the present system of government and has periodically rebelled against it. This year a serious rebellion broke out at Kagoshima, and was not quelled without great loss of life and a heavy expenditure. His followers behaved with great fanaticism, many of them loading themselves with gunpowder rushing into the midst of the enemy and setting fire to the powder, killing themselves by so doing, but also, to the admiration of their less ardent comrades, killing numbers of the enemy.

"Against no ancient custom has the Japanese Government more set its face than tattooing. Any persons in Japan now either allowing themselves to be tattooed or performing the operation on any one else are liable to imprisonment. Blacking the teeth, a custom prevalent among the women on being married, is rapidly dying out, being discouraged by the authorities."

The glimpses of Japan shown us by Thunberg and the American I have quoted prove clearly enough, even were it not amplified by a host of other testimony I have not space to refer to, that the Japan of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and early part of the nineteenth centuries was a highly civilised country in which law and order reigned supreme, where respect for authority was marked, the standard of comfort, if not high, was at any rate sufficient, the domestic relations and family life were almost ideal, clean living was the custom, crime was at a minimum, education was universal, amusements were plentiful, the artistic feeling and instincts were not the cult of a class but were shared by the common people. This was the nation, self-contained and self-satisfied, that some persons, like the young naval officer from whom I have quoted, gravely affirm to have been steeped in barbarism until it came under Western influences and went in for frock-coats and silk hats for the men, Paris costumes for the women, and an Army and Navy on European lines. If these be the factors which constitute civilisation I admit that Japan has only recently been civilised. Being of opinion, however, that civilisation does not consist in costumery, but is a refining and educating influence, I prefer to regard Japan as a country of more ancient civilisation than Great Britain, which has of recent years determined to tack on to that civilisation some Western manners and customs and facilities. Many of Japan's greatest thinkers, a few Western philosophers who can look beyond a costume, the telegraph or the telephone, are strongly of opinion that in the process of modern development Japan has not improved either morally or materially, and that, regarded through the dry light of philosophy, her pretensions to be considered a highly civilised nation were greater half a century back than they are at the present moment. Upon that matter my readers must form their own opinion. It is a question, the answer to which largely depends upon the point of view from which it is regarded and the factors taken into or left out of account.

In the first year of the Meiji (1868) the Emperor, in an edict, laid down clearly and concisely the lines on which he and his advisers had determined that Japan should for the future be governed. "The old uncivilised way shall be replaced by the eternal principles of the universe." "The best knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to promote the imperial welfare." "The eternal principles of the universe" is a resonant phrase needing interpretation. The rulers of Japan to-day, if they were interrogated on the subject, would probably reply that the record of Japan for over thirty-eight years past is the practical interpretation of the Emperor's cryptic utterance. Be that as it may, the ink was hardly dry on the Imperial edict before Japan laid herself out with earnestness, not to say enthusiasm, to carry into effect the principles enunciated in the edict. The whole country was quickly in a positive ferment of energy. The brightest intellects among its youth were despatched to foreign lands to acquire knowledge and wisdom to be applied at home in due course, education was taken in hand, so also was the reorganisation of the Army and Navy, and railways, telegraphs, and various other accessories of European civilisation were introduced into the country. Japan, in a word, became quickly transformed and, being unable any longer to keep the foreigner out, she determined to utilise him and in the future fight him, should fighting be necessary, with his own weapons, intellectual rather than material, but not omitting the material. Thirty-eight years and more have elapsed since the issue of the Imperial edict referred to, and this book is designed to show what results have flowed therefrom, along what lines the development of Japan has proceeded, and what are the position and prospects of that country to-day.



The Empire of Japan (a corruption of Nippon, the native name) is composed of four large islands—Honshiu, Shikoku, Kiushiu, and Yesso, besides some thousands of smaller isles. The Kurile Isles, north of Yesso, and in the neighbourhood of Kamschatka, have been incorporated in the Empire since 1875, and the Loo-Choo Islands, some 500 miles south-west of Japan's southern extremity, since 1876. The great island of Formosa, situated off the coast of China, was ceded to Japan as the outcome of the Chino-Japanese War in 1895, while as the result of the recent conflict with Russia, Japan has obtained back the southern half of the large island of Sakhalin, which formerly entirely belonged to her, as well as Port Arthur and Dalny on the mainland, not to speak of the preponderating influence she has obtained in Korea, which is now practically under the suzerainty of Japan. The population of the Empire according to the last census was about forty-seven millions, and, like that of Great Britain, it is annually increasing. The proximity of Japan to the Asiatic Continent, despite the lessons in geography which the late war afforded, is not, I think, generally understood. The nearest point of the Japanese coast is only 100 miles distant from Korea, while between the two lies the important island of Tsu-shima, which Japan found so useful as a strategic position during the war with Russia. The island of Sakhalin, the southern portion of which, as I have said, has lately passed into the possession of Japan, is about 20 miles distant from the northern part of Yesso, while at some places the island is only separated from the Russian mainland by 5 or 6 miles of water. The distance between Hakodate, in Yesso, and the great Russian port of Vladivostock is somewhere about 200 miles. This contiguity of Japan to the Asiatic Continent has already had a marked effect on the politics of the world, and in the future, if I mistake not, is likely to be a preponderating factor therein. The area of Japan is about half as large again as that of the United Kingdom. The southern extremity of the country is in latitude 31 deg. N., the northern in latitude 45-1/2 deg. N.

The Japanese islands are undoubtedly of volcanic origin, and many of the volcanoes in the country are still more or less active. The general conformation of the land leads one to suppose that the islands are the summits of mountain ranges which some thousands of years back had their bases submerged by the rising of the sea or else had by degrees settled down beneath the surface of the ocean. The general characteristic of the country is mountainous, and only about one-sixth of the total area is in cultivation. Fuji-yama, the loftiest mountain, for which the Japanese have a peculiar veneration and which has been immortalised in the art of the country, has an altitude of 12,730 feet. The next in height, Mount Mitake, ascends some 9,000 feet, and there are many others of 5,000 feet or more. Japan has from time to time been ravaged by, and indeed still is subject to, terrible earthquakes. These dire calamities seem to recur at regular intervals. The Japanese islands appear to be in the centre of great volcanic disturbances—a fact which probably accounts for those seismic outbreaks which periodically devastate considerable tracts of the country and cause tremendous havoc to life and property. The written records, extending back some 1,400 or 1,500 years, clearly prove that earthquakes even more terrible in their effects than any that have taken place in recent times were of frequent occurrence. It is, of course, possible that these records may be inaccurate or have been largely exaggerated, but they at any rate tend to show that those great cosmic forces which are popularly termed earthquakes have been constantly at work in Japan ever since any written records have been preserved and no doubt long anterior to that time.

As the islands are narrow and mountainous there are no great rivers and none available for important navigation. None of the rivers exceed 200 miles in length. Although Japan is situated much further south than Great Britain, its northern extremity being in about the same latitude as Cornwall, its climate is, on the whole, not unlike that of this country. Of course the climate of such a mountainous country and one extending over 14 degrees of latitude varies considerably. That of the island of Yesso, for example, is in winter rigorous to a degree, a fact in some measure caused by a cold current which flows down its eastern shores from the Sea of Okohotsk. Professor Rein, who has given great attention to the matter of the Japanese climate, has remarked in reference thereto: "The climate of Japan reflects the characteristics of that of the neighbouring continent, and exhibits like that two great annual contrasts—a hot, damp summer and a cold relatively dry winter; these two seasons lie under the sway of the monsoons, but the neighbouring seas weaken the effects of these winds and mitigate their extremes in such a manner that neither the summer heat nor the cold of winter attain the same height in Japan as in China at the same latitudes. Spring and autumn are extremely agreeable seasons; the oppressive summer heat does not last long, and in winter the contrast between the nightly frosts and the midday heat, produced by considerable insulation but still more by the raw northerly winds, causes frequent chills, though the prevailing bright sky makes the season of the year much more endurable than in many other regions where the winter cold is equal. As a fact the climate of Japan agrees very well with most Europeans, so that people have already begun to look upon certain localities as climatic watering-places where the inhabitant of Hong Kong and Shanghai can find refuge from the oppressive heat of summer and invigorate his health."

The mean annual temperature of Tokio is about 56 deg. The lowest temperature is in January or February, when the thermometer seldom falls below 25 deg., the highest in August, when it sometimes rises to 95 deg. or 100 deg. in the shade, the average being 82 deg. The Japanese suffer a good deal from the effects of the wintry weather, bronchial, chest, and rheumatic affections being prevalent. The dwellings of the people, somewhat flimsy in construction as they are, are not well adapted to withstand the effects of a low temperature. On the whole the people must be pronounced to be extremely healthy—a fact probably due to their scrupulous cleanliness, to the excellent ventilation of their houses, and, as regards those living in the towns, to the wide and well-kept streets where nothing offensive is allowed to remain. The country has, however, from time to time been subject to epidemics introduced from without, cholera and the plague having more than once carried death throughout the length and breadth of the land.

Those circular storms known as cyclones in the Indian Ocean and typhoons in further Eastern seas have from time to time wrought great devastation in Japan. Fortunately these revolving storms are of brief duration, and in the neighbourhood of Japan they do not so frequently occur as in the China Sea.

Japan is well provided with good harbours, that of Nagasaki in especial being one of the finest in the world. Sheltered completely by lofty and beautiful hills, with deep water throughout, it is an ideal anchorage. Until recently foreign trade was confined to the treaty ports; but as the country has now been completely thrown open, there is no doubt that the many fine harbours which Japan possesses, and which so far have hardly been utilised at all, will in due course become the centres of great commercial activity. The Inland Sea—the beautiful Mediterranean of Japan—abounds with excellent anchorages, most of which have hitherto been only entered by an occasional junk.

Regarding the mineral wealth of the country, it is impossible to speak with any precision. It was not until after the Revolution of 1868 that the mining industry assumed importance in Japan. At first the Government itself owned several mines, but these were not financially successful, and they were after a time disposed of to private owners. The old mining regulations have recently been superseded by a new mining law. In accordance with this the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce is the official who permits, approves, cancels, or suspends the right of mining, whether permanently or on trial. I may, however, at once remark that the Japanese Government has not up to the present held out much encouragement to the speculative prospector. Gold is believed to exist in considerable quantities in Yesso, and as a matter of fact, although the amount mined is still small, it is annually increasing. Coal is abundant in various parts of the country and the mines are extensively worked. In 1903 there were over ten million tons of coal produced, and the quantity is at the present time assuredly very much greater. The coal is not of such a good quality as either Welsh or North Country, but there is a large and growing demand for it in the East, and coal is undoubtedly a highly important part of Japan's latent wealth. Copper, a metal which is in increasing demand, exists in Japan in enormous quantities, and she promises at no very far-distant date to be the chief copper-producing country of the world. Iron and sulphur are also found, and there are many other minerals, some of which are more or less worked. The Japanese Mining Law, it may be interesting to relate, recognises the following minerals and mineral ores, which may accordingly be taken as existing in the country: Gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, hematite, antimony, quicksilver, zinc, iron, manganese and arsenic, plumbago, coal, kerosene, sulphur, bismuth, phosphorus, peat.

Whatever the mineral wealth of Japan—and the extent and variety thereof are probably yet not fully realised—there can be no question as to the value of its arboreal products. The lacquer-tree (rhus vernicifera), which furnishes the well-known Japanese lacquer, the paper mulberry, the elm, oak, maple, bamboo, camphor, and many other descriptions of trees, grow in abundance. The forests of Japan cover nearly 60 per cent. of the land. For some years after the Revolution there was a reduction in the wooded area, nearly four million acres having been cleared for occupation. Of late years, however, forestry has been scientifically taken in hand, and about one and a half million acres have been replanted in districts which have not been found suitable for farming. The climate of Japan varies so greatly that there is a corresponding variety in its trees. About eight hundred kinds of forest trees are suitable for cultivation in Japan, varying from the palm and the bamboo to the fir and many other trees with which we are familiar in this country.

The Japanese are above all things an agricultural people. The tobacco plant, the tea shrub, potatoes, rice, wheat, barley, millet, cotton, rape, and many cereals other than those I have mentioned are extensively cultivated. The great mass of the people of Japan live on the land, and though I think the tendency, as in Great Britain, is for the large towns to magnetically draw the dwellers in the country, nevertheless agriculture is still held in high esteem, and the peasant is content to dwell on the land and live by it. Rice is the staple food of the people, and it is grown everywhere; indeed the yearly harvest of it affects the Japanese economy quite as much as, if not even more than, the wheat crop does that of Europe. The Japanese peasant is almost as dependent on rice as the Irish peasant used to be on potatoes. The water, so necessary for irrigating the land, is supplied by the streams and rivulets which are plentiful in the country. The Japanese agriculturist has long been famous for the admirable manner in which he keeps and tills his farm. The fields are clean as regards weeds, and order and neatness are perceptible everywhere. The labour is almost entirely manual, and men, women, and children all take part in the work.

Fruit is abundant in Japan, but it is for the most part of an inferior quality. Grapes, apples, pears, plums, peaches, chestnuts, persimmons, oranges, figs, lemons, citrons, melons, and wild strawberries are all grown, but except as regards the grapes I cannot speak in laudatory terms of Japanese fruit. The flowers of many fruit trees seem more appreciated than the fruit itself.

The floral kingdom is rich, beautiful and varied. Probably in no other part of the world are flowers so greatly appreciated as in Japan. They enter largely into various popular festivals. The Japanese, as most people know, excel in the art of gardening and the dwarfing of trees and shrubs. The flower vendor is a familiar sight, and there is never any lack of buyers. The poorest householder will do without anything almost rather than deprive himself of flowers. These enter largely into the religious services of the people, and are also extensively placed on the graves of the departed. Flowers, indeed, play an important part in the lives of the Japanese. Japan has long been famous for the great number of its evergreens. A large number of the plants growing wild are of this class, so that even in winter the land has not the bare appearance characteristic of European countries at that time of the year. Coniferous plants are abundant, many of them being peculiar to Japan.

The coasts abound with fish of an excellent quality, and this, with rice, forms the staple diet of the people. Tea is, as I have said, largely cultivated, and indeed may be regarded as the national beverage. It has been cultivated in the country for over two thousand years. It is an article of faith in Japan that tea strengthens the body. It is drunk everywhere and at all times, without either milk or sugar—the true way, I think, in which to appreciate its flavour. The tea-house in Japan occupies the same position as the public-house in this country, but it has many advantages over the latter. In the towns and some other parts of Japan, sake—a spirit distilled from rice—is drunk, and when the Japanese has to any extent been Europeanised or brought into contact with Europeans, he affects a taste for European varieties of alcohol. On the whole, however, the people are distinctly a sober race.

The principal towns are Tokio, the capital, with a population of about one and half millions, Osaka, having a population nearly as great, Kyoto, the ancient capital, Nagoya, Kobe, Yokohama, and Nagasaki. Yokohama may be regarded as the European headquarters; indeed it is largely a European town, while Nagasaki has more than any other been under European influences, the Dutch having, as I have already stated, had a factory there, in the suburb of Decima, continuously ever since the expulsion of foreigners from the country in the sixteenth century.

Railway communication in Japan is a subject upon which much might be written. For many years there was only one line in the country—that between Yokohama and Tokio, about 22 miles in length. At the present time there are some 4,500 miles of railway open, and extensions are either in progress or in contemplation. Of the lines now being worked, about one-third are the property of the Government, the rest having been constructed by private enterprise. This dual system of ownership has its disadvantages, and it will doubtless not be permitted to last. Railway construction has already had a considerable effect on the opening up of the country, and as the construction is extended the development of Japan will doubtless proceed in an increasing ratio.

The scenery of Japan has provided a theme for so many pens that I do not feel inclined to do more than refer to it in passing. Much of the scenery is sublime but, truth to tell, its beauty, or perhaps it would be more correct to say the effect thereof on the sightseer, has been somewhat marred of recent years by the influx of those persons colloquially known as "globe trotters," the railway extensions to which I have referred, and the erection of large hotels run on European lines. Nikko, the incomparable, with its glorious scenery and its still more glorious temples, the meandering Daynogawa, the beauteous Lake Chiuzenji, on which a quarter of a century or so ago a European provided with a passport and having his headquarters at a neighbouring tea-house might gaze at his leisure, and meditate in a glorious silence broken only by the sound of the ripples of the water or the cry of the birds from the neighbouring woods, all are now vulgarised. The personally conducted tourist is there and very much in evidence. He wanders carelessly, often contemptuously, through the ancient temples, regarding temples, scenery, river, lakes, merely as "something to be done." The change was, I suppose, inevitable, but the change is one that I think is in some respects to be regretted. The tourist brings money and spends it freely, and the country no doubt reaps the advantage thereof, but the effect on the Japanese brought into contact with the European under such conditions is not, in my opinion, always, or often, beneficial.

I have not much to remark in regard to the fauna of Japan. The domestic animals are comparatively few. The fact of the inhabitants not eating animal food has led to their paying little or no attention to the breeding of those animals which are largely in request in foreign countries. Horses, however, are fairly plentiful, though small. Japan, as I have elsewhere remarked, has been handicapped in the organisation of her cavalry by the lack of a proper supply of suitable horses, and she has recently despatched a commission to Europe to effect purchases with a view of putting this matter right, and improving the breed of horses in the county. Oxen and cows were till recently entirely, and are still largely, used for purposes of draught only. Sheep and pigs have been introduced from abroad, but they have not been generally distributed, and in many parts of Japan have never been seen.

The wild animals of Japan are neither numerous nor important. The black bear and the wolf still exist, chiefly in the Northern Island, but it is certain that at no far-distant date they will, unless artificially preserved, go the way of all wild animals in civilised countries. The red-faced monkey is there, the only kind found in Japan, and snakes exist, but they are for the most part harmless. The art of the country will have familiarised Europeans with the presence of the crane and the stork, which play such a prominent part therein. Indeed the wild birds of the country are more numerous than the animals. I am not aware whether geological research in Japan has been sufficiently extensive or systematic to ascertain whether, and if so what, any species of animals have ever existed there other than those at present found in the country. It certainly is in some respects extraordinary that a country so close to the Asiatic Continent and possessing such a variety of climates should, as regards the animal kingdom from the standpoint of the zoologist, be put down as distinctly poor. The fact, or supposed fact, to which I have previously referred, that the Japanese islands are the summits of mountain ranges which many thousand years ago had their bases submerged by the rising of the sea or had gradually settled down beneath the surface of the ocean, may, of course, account for the poverty of Japan in regard to the animals therein. I must leave other pens than mine to descant on that interesting if highly speculative matter. Be that as it may, if the fauna of Japan is poor, the country certainly makes up for it by the variety and magnificence of its flora—a flora which deserves to be studied, and which has done so much to brighten not only the appearance of the country but the lives of its inhabitants.



There are, I have always thought, two ways in which any race should be considered if it is desired to form a correct idea in regard to it, viz., from an ethnological and philological standpoint. No race deserves to be closer studied in these matters than the Japanese. Indeed, I am of opinion that it is impossible to arrive at any clear or correct opinion concerning it without having, however slightly, investigated its racial descent and the language which, among Eastern dialects, has so long been as great a puzzle to the philologist as has Basque among the European languages. Respecting the origin of the Japanese we know practically nothing—at any rate nothing authentic. The native legends and histories afford us neither guide nor clue in the matter. These legends and histories tell us that the Japanese are descended from the gods, but I am quite certain that the modern Japanese receives that fact (?) with something more than the proverbial grain of salt. According to the old legend Ninigi-no-Nikoto was a god despatched by his grandmother the Sun-goddess to take possession of Japan, and the land was peopled by him and his entourage. This god-man, it is stated, lived over 300,000 years; his son, Hohoderni, attained to twice that period of longevity, while a grandchild, Ugaya by name, reached the respectable old age of 836,042 years. Ugaya was, it is stated, the father of Jimmu, the first Emperor. It is not necessary to seriously notice fables or legends or poetic imagery, or whatever these tales may be deemed to be, although I may remark that the divine descent of the sovereign of Japan has, so far as I know, never been formally repudiated, and it is still explicitly, if not implicitly, held.

Dr. Kaemfer, whose great work I have already referred to, propounded therein the somewhat fanciful theory that the Japanese are really the direct descendants of the ancient Babylonians, and that their language "is one of those which Sacred Writ mentions the all-wise Providence thought fit to infuse into the minds of the vain builders of the Babylonian Tower." According to his theory, which to me seems absolutely ludicrous, the Japanese came through Persia, then along the shores of the Caspian Sea and by the bank of the Oxus to its source. From there, he suggests, they crossed China, descended the Amoor, proceeded southwards to Korea, and found their way across the intervening sea to the Japanese islands. Another theory, which has found many supporters, is that the Japanese are descended from the Ainos, the hairy race still to be found in the island of Yesso. An advocate of this view seeks to bolster up his faith by the evidences of an aboriginal race still to be found in the relics of the Stone Age in Japan. "Flint arrows and spear-heads," he remarks, "hammers, chisels, scrapers, kitchen refuse, and various other trophies are frequently excavated, or may be found in the museum or in homes of private persons. Though covered with the soil for centuries, they seem as though freshly brought from an Aino hut in Yesso. In scores of striking instances the very peculiar ideas, customs, and superstitions of both Japanese and Aino are the same, or but slightly modified."

This seems to me to be no evidence at all. Flint arrows, spear-heads, hammers, and so on are to be found in every part of the world. Mankind all over the globe seems to have evolved its civilisation, or what passes for it, in very much the same way, viz., by process of experiment. Another authority has asserted that the short, round skull, the oblique eyes, the prominent cheek-bones, the dark, black hair, and the scanty beard all proclaim the Manchus and Koreans as the nearest congeners of the Japanese. This authority considers it positive that the latter are a Tungusic race, and that their own traditions and the whole course of their history are incompatible with any other conclusion than that Korea is the route by which the immigrant tribes made their entry into Kiushiu from their original Manchurian home. While accepting this theory with some reservations, I may remark that I altogether fail to see what the "whole course" of Japanese history has to do with the matter. Japanese history, as I have previously observed, is almost altogether legendary, and proves nothing except the credulity of those who have accepted it as statements of fact. Ethnology, I admit, is a most interesting field for speculation. It is one in which the mind can positively run riot and the imagination revel. The wildest theories have been put forward in regard to many of the world's races, and philological arguments of the thinnest possible kind have been used to bolster them up. For example, one very able writer on this matter has broached a theory respecting the origin of the Japanese, and supported it by what seems to be very plausible evidence. He assumes, on what grounds I know not, that there was a white race earlier in the field of history than the Aryans, and that the seat of this white race was in High Africa. That it was from Africa that migrations were made to North, Central, and South America, as well as to Egypt, and subsequently to Babylonia and, apparently, to India. In due course, according to this authority, Syria and Babylonia were conquered by the Semites, while the Aryans became masters of Europe, Asia Minor, and India. The suggestion is that the conquerors of the Japanese islands and the founders of the Japanese language and mythology were of the Turano-African type. That these invaders intermarried with a mixed short race, and that the new dominating Japanese race maintained and propagated their dialect of the language and their sect of the religion, and displaced the pure natives. The same authority suggests that when the Pacific route to America was closed by the weakness of the Turano Africans and the rising of cannibals and other savages (where did they rise from?) the Japanese were isolated on the east. On their west the Turano-African dynasties in China and Korea fell, and were replaced by natives, the same series of events taking place as in Egypt, Peru, Mexico, &c. The principal evidence in support of this somewhat startling theory is the similarity between the words in use in Japanese and in certain African languages. But if evidence of that nature is to be accepted in proof of somewhat improbable theories, it will be possible to prove almost anything in regard to the origin of races. I utterly reject all these far-fetched theories. Any unprejudiced man looking at the Japanese, the Chinaman, and the Korean will have no doubt whatever in his own mind as to their racial affinity. Differences there most certainly are, just as there are between the Frenchman and the Englishman, or even the Englishman and the Scotchman, but what I may term the pronounced characteristics are the same—the colour of the skin, the oblique eyes, the dark hair, and the contour of the skull. These people, whatever the present difference in their mental, moral, and physical characteristics, have quite evidently all come from the same stock. They are, in a word, Mongolians, and any attempt to prove that one particular portion of this stock is Turano-African, or something else equally absurd from an ethnological point of view, seems to me to be positively childish. There was probably originally a mixture of races, Malay as well as others, which has had its effect on the peculiar temperament of the Japanese as he is to-day compared with the Chinaman.

Of course language cannot be left out of account in the question of the racial origin of any people, and the Japanese language has, as I have said, long been a puzzle for the philologist. In the early times we are told the Japanese had no written language. The language in use before the opening up of communications with Korea and China stood alone. Indeed there is only one language outside Japan which has any affinity therewith, that is the language of the inhabitants of the Loo-Choo Islands. Philologists have excluded the language from the Aryan and Semitic tongues, and included it in the Turanian group. It is said to possess all the characteristics of the Turanian family being agglutinated, that is to say, maintaining its roots in their integrity without formative prefixes, poor in conjunctions, and copious in the use of participles. It is uncertain when alphabetical characters were introduced into Japan, but it is believed to have happened when intercourse with Korea was first opened about the commencement of the Christian Era. The warrior Empress, Jungu-kogo, is said to have carried away from Korea as many books as possible after the successful invasion of that country. In the third century the son of the Emperor Ojin learned to read Chinese works, and henceforward the Chinese language and literature seem to have been introduced into Japan. A great impetus was given to the spread of Chinese literature by the introduction of Buddhism and Buddhist writings in the sixth century, and the effect thereof is now apparent in the number of Chinese words in the Japanese language. The question as to the origin of the earliest written characters employed in Japan is one that has produced, and probably will continue to produce, much controversy. These are known as Shinji letters of the God Age, but they have left no traces in the existing alphabet. There is a remarkable difference between the written and spoken dialects of Japan. The grammars of the two are entirely different, and it is possible to speak the language colloquially and yet not be able to read a newspaper, book, or letter; while, on the other hand, it is possible to know the written language thoroughly, and yet be unable to carry on a conversation with a Japanese. The spoken language, as a matter of fact, is not difficult except in regard to the complicated construction of the words. The difficulty is in reference to the written language. There are really three modes or systems of writing: the first consists of the use of the Chinese characters, the second and third of two different alphabets. Although the Japanese have adopted the Chinese characters and learned to attach to them the same meaning as obtains in China, the construction of sentences is sometimes so totally different that it is difficult for a Chinaman to read a book written by a Japanese in the Chinese characters, while the Japanese cannot read Chinese books unless he has specially studied Chinese. It is evident from what I have said that it is difficult to obtain a complete knowledge of the written language of Japan in its Chinese form. There is a certain school of thought in Japan which is enthusiastic for the replacement of the present complicated system by the introduction of a Roman alphabet, but I feel bound to say that this school has not made much progress, and it is not likely to be successful. Although the present system has its disadvantages, it has its advantages likewise. The written characters are those common to about 450 millions of the world's people, and I think that the use of the Chinese characters in Japan will be a factor of considerable importance in the future history of the world, because I am convinced that Japan is destined to exercise a preponderating influence in and over China, and that the exercise of that influence will be greatly facilitated by the written characters which both nations have in common.

I may at once candidly confess that I have no theory to broach in respect of the origin of the Japanese people or the language that they speak. In such matters theorising appears to me to be a pure waste of time. One has only to look round the world as it is to-day, or for the matter of that within the confines of one's own country, to see how rapidly the people living for long periods in a certain part of the country develop distinct characteristics not only in physiognomy but in dialect. It is only the existence of the printing press which has, so to speak, stereotyped the languages of nations and prevented variations becoming fixed, variations and dialects which in days prior to the existence of printing presses were evolved into distinct languages. Take the British Isles for example, any part of them, Yorkshire, Scotland, Ireland, London, and note the difference between the spoken language of certain classes and the language as printed in newspapers and books. Given a nation isolated, or comparatively isolated, for many hundreds of years, it is difficult to say to what extent its language might be evolved or in what degree the few chance visitors thereto may introduce words which are readily adapted to or adopted in the language and influence it for all time. Take, for example, a word which any visitor to China or Japan must have heard over and over again, viz., "Joss," as applied to God. This is, as most people know, simply a corruption of the Portuguese name for the deity. I hope some philologist a few thousand years hence who may trace that word to its original source will not adduce therefrom that either the Chinese or the Japanese sprang from a Latin race.

The most ancient Japanese writings date from the eighth century. These are Japanese written in Chinese characters, but the Chinese written language as also its literature and the teachings of the great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, are believed to have been introduced several hundreds of years previously. This contact with and importation from China undoubtedly had a marked effect in inducing what I may term atrophy in the development of the Japanese language as also the growth of its own literature, that is a literature entirely devoid of Chinese influences. Indeed it is impossible to speculate on what might have been the development of Japan and in what direction that development would have proceeded had she never come under the influence of the Chinese language, literature, religion, and artistic principles.

I have not the slightest doubt myself, as I have said before, that the Japanese are of the same stock as the Chinese and Koreans. I have no theory in regard to the origin of the Ainos, who are most likely the aboriginal inhabitants. They are quite evidently a distinct race from the Japanese proper, although of course there has been some interbreeding between them.

The language of Japan naturally suggests some reference to its literature, of which there is no lack, either ancient or modern. I have dealt with this matter in some detail in a subsequent chapter. The old literature of Japan is but little known to Europeans, and probably most Europeans would be incapable of appreciating or understanding it. It abounds in verbal artifices, and the whole habits of life and modes of thought and conception of things, material and spiritual, of the Japanese of those days were so totally different to those of the European as to render it almost unintelligible to the latter. There are, however, scholars who have waded through this literature as also through the poetry of Japan and have found great delight therein. In the process of translating an Oriental language, full of depths of subtlety of thought and expressing Oriental ideas in an Oriental manner, much, if not most, of its beauty and charm must be lost. That is, I think, why the Japanese prose and poetry when translated into English seem so bald and lifeless. We know by experience that even a European language loses in the process of translation which is, except in very rare instances, a purely mechanical art. How much more so must be the case in regard to an Oriental language with its depths of hyperbole and replete with imagery, idealism, and flowery illustrations.

I have referred to the literature of modern Japan, the ephemeral literature, in a chapter on its newspaper press. The modern literature, whether ephemeral or otherwise, is distinctly not on Oriental lines. The influence of the West permeates it. Distinctive Japanese literature is, I imagine, a thing of the past, and I fear it will be less and less studied as time goes on. Young Japan is a "hustler," to use a modern word, and it has no time and mayhap not much inclination for what it perhaps regards as somewhat effete matter. It thinks hurriedly and acts rapidly, and it, accordingly, aspires to express its thoughts and ideas through a medium which shall do so concisely and effectively.

Whatever the origin of the Japanese race or the Japanese language, whether the former came from the plains of Babylon, the heights of Africa, or from some part of the American Continent, or was evolved on the spot, one thing is certain—that the Japanese race and the Japanese language have been indelibly stamped on the world's history. The ethnologist may still puzzle himself as to the origin of these forty-seven millions of people and feel annoyed because he cannot classify them to his own satisfaction. The philologist may feel an equal or even a greater puzzle in reference to their language. These are merely speculative matters which may interest or amuse the man who has the time for such pursuits, but they are, after all, of no great practical importance. The future of a race is of more concern than its past, and, whatever the origin of a language may have been, if that language serves in the processes of development to give expression to noble thoughts, whether in prose or poetry, to voice the wisdom of the people, to preach the gospel of human brotherhood, it matters little how it was evolved or whence it came. It is because I believe that the Japanese race and the Japanese language have a great future before them in the directions I have indicated that I have dealt but lightly, I hope none of my readers will think contemptuously, with the theories that have been put forward in reference to the origin of both.



Most persons in this country if they were asked what was the religion of the Japanese people would probably answer Buddhism. As a matter of fact, though Buddhism was introduced into Japan from Korea as far back as 552 A.D., it is not and never has been the preponderating religion in Japan. At the same time I quite admit that it has had a marked effect on the religious life of the people, and that it again has been influenced by the ancient Shinto (literally, "The way of the gods") belief of the Japanese people. This belief, a compound of mythology and ancestral worship, was about the first century largely encrusted by Confucian doctrines or maxims, mostly ethical, imported from China. Of the precise doctrines of Shintoism but little is even now known. It has apparently no dogmas and no sacred book. I am aware that there are the ancient Shinto rituals, called Nurito, and that in reference to them a vast amount of more or less erudite commentary has been written. The result, however, has not been very enlightening. I think that Kaemfer succinctly summed up the Shinto faith in reference to the Japanese people when he remarked, "The more immediate end which they propose to themselves is a state of happiness in this world." In other words, if this assertion be correct, Shintoism preaches utilitarianism. As to the origin of this religion there is very much the same uncertainty and quite as large an amount of theorising as is the case in reference to the Japanese race and language. The most generally received opinion is that Shintoism is closely allied with, if not an offshoot of, the old religion of the Chinese people prior to the days of Confucius. Originally Shinto was in all probability a natural religion, but, like all religious systems, it has developed or suffered from accretions until the ancient belief is lost in obscurity. The author of a now somewhat out-of-date book, entitled "Progress of Japan," asserts that the religion of the Japanese consists in a "belief that the productive ethereal spirit being expanded through the whole universe, every part is in some degree impregnated with it and therefore every part is in some measure the seat of the Deity; whence local gods and goddesses are everywhere worshipped and consequently multiplied without end. Like the ancient Romans and Greeks they acknowledge a supreme being, the first, the supreme, the intellectual, by which men have been reclaimed from rudeness and barbarism to elegance and refinement, and been taught through privileged men and women not only to live with more comfort but to die with better hope." Such a religion, however it may be described, seems to me to be in effect Pantheism.

When Buddhism was introduced into Japan the Buddhist priesthood seems to have made no difficulty about receiving the native gods into their Pantheon. Gradually the greater number of the Shinto temples were served by Buddhist priests who introduced into them the elaborate ornaments and ritual of Buddhism. The result was a kind of hybrid religion, the line of demarcation between the ancient and the imported faith not being very clearly defined. Hence perhaps the religious tolerance of the Japanese for so many centuries, even to Christianity when first introduced by St. Francis Xavier. About the beginning of the eighteenth century there was something akin to a religious reformation in Japan in the direction of the revival of pure Shintoism. For a century and a half subsequently Shintoism held up its head, and eventually, as the outcome of the Revolution of 1868, which marked a turning-point in the history of Japan, Buddhism was disestablished and disendowed and Shinto was installed as the State religion. Simultaneously many thousand of Buddhist temples were stripped of their magnificent and elaborate ornaments and handed over to Shinto keeping; but the downfall of Buddhism was merely of a temporary nature. Nevertheless Shinto is, ostensibly at any rate, still the State religion. Certain temples are maintained from public funds and certain official religious functions take place in Shinto edifices.

Buddhism, acclimatised though it has been in Japan for thirteen centuries, is still a foreign religion, but it has played, and to some extent still plays, an important part in the life and history of the nation, and it has, as I have said, materially influenced the ancient faith of Japan and in turn been influenced by it. I have no intention of describing, much less tracing, the history of Buddhism, whether in Japan or elsewhere. It is a subject on which many writers have descanted and in regard to which much might still be written. There is no doubt whatever that Buddhism as it exists to-day, whether in Ceylon, India, China, or Japan, is widely different from the religion of its founder. Many of its original doctrines were purely symbolical and poetical. These have been evolved into something they were certainly never intended to mean. That the principles of the Buddhist religion are essentially pure and moral no one who has any knowledge of it can deny. It preaches above all things the suppression of self, and it inculcates a tenderness and fondness for all forms of life. According to Griffis, "Its commandments are the dictates of the most refined morality. Besides the cardinal prohibitions against murder, stealing, adultery, lying, drunkenness and unchastity, every shade of vice, hypocrisy, anger, pride, suspicion, greediness, gossiping, cruelty to animals is guarded against by special precepts. Among the virtues recommended we find not only reverence of parents, care of children, submission to authority, gratitude, moderation in times of prosperity, submission in times of trial, equanimity at all times, but virtues such as the duty of forgiving insults and not rewarding evil with evil." This is a pretty exhaustive moral code, and though Buddhism has often been taunted with the fact that its followers do not practically carry out its precepts and live up to the level of its high moral teaching, Buddhism is not, I would suggest, the only religion against which such taunts can be levelled.

The history of Buddhism ever since its introduction into Japan has been an eventful one. It has had its ups and its downs. It came into the country under royal auspices, it has nearly always enjoyed the royal favour, and I think its existence, during at any rate the first few centuries it was in the country, has been due to that fact rather than to any pronounced affection on the part of the mass of the people for it. One Emperor, Shirakawa by name, is recorded to have erected more than 50,000 pagodas and statues throughout the country in honour of Buddha. Many of these works are still, after many centuries, in an excellent state of preservation, and are of deep interest not only to the antiquarian but to any student of the religious history of a nation. The Buddhist priests, like the Jesuits in European countries, during many centuries captured and controlled education in Japan and showed themselves thoroughly progressive in their methods and the knowledge they inculcated. Art and medicine were introduced under their auspices and, whatever one may think of, or whatever criticism may be passed on the religion itself, it is impossible, in my opinion, to deny that Buddhism on the whole has had a vast and, I venture to think, not an unhealthy influence on every phase of Japanese national and domestic life. The strength and weakness of Buddhism have undoubtedly lain in the fact that it possessed and possesses no dogmatic creed. It concerned itself almost entirely with self-mastery, self-suppression, the duty of doing good in this world without looking forward to any reward for the same in the next. It preached benevolence in the true meaning of that word in every shape and form. It taught that benevolence was the highest aspiration of a noble spirit. Benevolence was, indeed, the master virtue, the crown, the coping stone, of all virtues. As the term is used in Buddhist teaching, it may be regarded as the synonym of love and a close study of the teaching of Buddhism on this subject must impress any thinking man strongly with the idea that it was very much the teaching of Christ in reference to the love of one's neighbour. Buddhism in Japan at any rate has not been conservative; it has gone the way of most religious systems, has been subject to development and has evolved from time to time different sects, some of which have held and preached dogmas which would, I think, have astounded, and I feel certain would have been anathematised by, the founder of Buddhism. The principal of the sects now existing in Japan are the Tendai, Shingon Yoko and Ken, all of which, I may observe, are of Chinese origin. Besides these there are the Shin and the Nichiren evolved in Japan and dating from the thirteenth century. Respecting the metaphysics of Buddhism and their effect on the Japanese people I cannot, I think, do better than quote from that great authority on all things Japanese, Mr. Basil Hall Chamberlain, whose writings have done so much, not only to awaken an interest in Japan but to give correct ideas respecting the life of the people. He remarks, in this connection, "The complicated metaphysics of Buddhism have awakened no interest in the Japanese nation. Another fact, curious but true, is that these people have never been at the trouble to translate the Buddhist canon into their own language. The priests use a Chinese version, the laity no version at all nowadays, though to judge from the allusions scattered up and down Japanese literature they would seem to have been more given to searching the Scriptures a few hundred years ago. The Buddhist religion was disestablished and disendowed during the years 1871-4—a step taken in consequence of the temporary ascendency of Shinto. At the present time a faint struggle is being carried on by the Buddhist priesthood against rivals in comparison with whom Shinto is insignificant: we mean the two great streams of European thought—Christianity and physical science. A few—a very few—men trained in European methods fight for the Buddhist cause. They do so, not as orthodox believers in any existing sect, but because they are convinced that the philosophical contents of Buddhism in general are supported by the doctrine of evolution, and that this religion needs therefore only to be regenerated on modern lines in order to find universal acceptance."

The "Reformation" of 1868 in Japan followed much the same course in regard to religious matters as the Reformation in England. It laid vandal hands on Buddhist temples and ornaments of priceless value. The objective point of this religious Reformation was presumably very much the same as that which occurred in this country, viz., a reversion to simplicity in religion. The Shinto Temple which is invariably thatched is a development of the ancient Japanese hut, whereas the Buddhist Temple, which is of Indian origin, is tiled, and as regards its internal fittings and ornamentation is elaborate in comparison with the plain appearance of the Shinto edifice.

So far as the Japan of to-day is concerned these two religions may be regarded as moribund, although their temples are still thronged by the lower classes of the people. They exist because they are there, but they have no vitality, no message for the people, and it is questionable whether any of Japan's great thinkers or the educated classes in the country, whichever religion they may nominally belong to, have faith or belief in it. A man may have, or for sundry reasons profess, a creed in Japan as in other countries without believing in it. Custom and prejudices are as strong there as elsewhere, and it is often easier to appear to acquiesce in a religion than to openly reject it.

There are, I know, some optimistic persons who believe, or affect to believe, that Christianity is in due course destined to replace the ancient faiths in Japan. They point to what was effected by St. Francis Xavier in the sixteenth century, and they imagine that the Japan of the twentieth century is only waiting to finally unshackle itself from Shintoism and Buddhism before arraying itself in the garb of Christianity. Well, Christian missions have had a fair field in Japan for many years past, and though many members of those missions have been men of great piety, zeal, and learning, they have made comparatively little headway among and have exercised extremely little influence on the mass of the Japanese people. Indeed, the fair field that all Christian missions without distinction have had, in my opinion, accounts for the small amount of progress they have made. Because all the leading Christian denominations are there—Roman Catholicism, Church of England, Greek Church, Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists, Salvation Army, Society of Friends, and others—all preaching and proclaiming their own particular dogmas and all lumped together by the Japanese under the generic title of Christians. The Japanese may, I think, be excused if he fails to differentiate between them. He views and hears their differences in dogma. He observes that there is no bond of union, and frequently considerable jealousy among these numerous sects. Each claims to preach the truth, and the Japanese concludes that as they cannot all be right they may possibly all be wrong. It is only on this assumption that it is possible to account for the little headway made by Christianity in Japan in view of the labour and money devoted by different religious bodies to its propagation for many years past. There is, let me add, no marked hostility to Christianity in Japan—only indifference. The educated Japanese of to-day is, I believe, for the most part an agnostic, and he views Shintoism, Buddhism, Christianity alike, except in so far as he regards the first two as more or less national and the last as an exotic.

At the commencement of the seventeenth century the Japanese Christians are stated to have amounted in numbers to one million. At the present time it is doubtful if they total up to one hundred thousand. And this despite the splendid religious organisations that exist, the facilities that are given for the propagation of the Christian faith, and the opportunities which were certainly not in existence three hundred years ago. Into the causes of this comparative failure of Christianity in Japan to-day as compared with its marvellous progress in the sixteenth century, I do not propose to enter. The enthusiasm of a Francis Xavier is not an everyday event, and the Japanese of the sixteenth century was, mayhap, more impressed by the missionaries of those days, arriving in flimsy and diminutive vessels after undergoing the perils and hardships of long voyages, having neither purse nor scrip nor wearing apparel except what they stood up in, than he is by the modern missionary arriving as a first-class passenger in a magnificent steamer and during his residence in the country lacking none of the comforts or amenities of life. Or it may be that the Japanese mind has advanced and developed during the past three centuries, has now less hankering after metaphysical subtleties, and fails to comprehend or to sympathise with abstruse theological dogmas and doctrines. If Christianity appealed to him as in the days of Francis Xavier as the one faith professed by the Western world, it would probably impress him to a far greater extent than it does at present when, as I have before said, he views Christianity as a disorganised body composed of hundreds of sects each rejecting, and many of them anathematising, what the others teach. He considers there is no need for investigation until Christianity has itself determined what is the precise truth that non-Christian countries are to be asked to accept.

Regarding the influence of the Buddhist and Shinto religions during the many centuries they have existed in the country on the lives of the people, I propose to make a few remarks. Too often one hears or reads of speakers and writers describing Japan as a country steeped in paganism and addicted to pagan habits and customs with all (somewhat indefinite this!) that they involve. To describe Buddhism as paganism merely shows a lamentable amount of ignorance; nor should I be inclined to include Shintoism in a term which, whatever its precise meaning, is invariably intended to be opprobrious! After all, any religion must be largely judged by its effects on the lives of its adherents, and judged by that standard I do not think, as regards the Japanese, either Buddhism or Shintoism ought to be sweepingly condemned. If many of the customs and practices of both religions seem silly or absurd; if either or both inculcate or lead to superstition, it can at least be said of both that they teach a high moral code, and that the average Japanese in his life, his family relations, his philosophy, his patriotism, his bodily cleanliness, and in many other respects, offers an example to other nations which deem themselves more highly civilised, which possess a purer religion and too often, with that lack of charity which is frequently the result of an excess of ignorance, unsparingly condemn the Japanese as "pagans" or "heathens."



A Constitution, if we are to accept the dogmatic assertions of those who have written with a show of learning on the subject, ought to be evolved rather than established by any parliamentary or despotic act. The history of the world certainly tends to prove that paper Constitutions have not been over-successful in the past. There assuredly has been no lack of them in the last century or so, and although some, if not all, of them have been practically tried, a very few have attained any considerable measure of success. The English Constitution has long been held up to the rest of the world by writers on Constitutional history as a model of what a Constitution ought to be, for the somewhat paradoxical reason that it is nowhere clearly, if indeed at all, defined. It is largely the outcome of custom and usage, and it is claimed for it that on the whole it has worked better than any cut-and-dried paper Constitution would have done.

Nevertheless there does not appear to be any good and valid reason why a Constitution should not be as clearly defined as an Act of Parliament. Undefined Constitutions have worked well at certain periods when there was a tacit general consent as to their meaning, but they have not always been able to withstand the strain of fierce controversy and the coming into existence of factors which were undreamt of when these Constitutions were originally evolved, and definitions or additions or amendments thereto have, accordingly, become necessary.

The promulgation of a Constitution for Japan in February, 1889, was an event of great interest to the civilised world. There were, of course, at the time a large number of persons who prophesied that this Constitution would go the way of many others that had preceded it—that it would, in fact, be found unworkable and, being so found, Constitutional Government in Japan would eventuate, as it had elsewhere, in the resumption of autocratic rule as the only alternative to anarchy. It is pleasing to be able to record that these prophecies have, after nearly eighteen years' experience, not been fulfilled, and that the Japanese Constitution, well thought out and devised as it was, seems not only likely to endure but is admirably adapted to all the circumstances and needs of the country.

In order to fully comprehend the events that gradually led up to the establishment of Constitutional government in Japan, and the precise place of the Crown and aristocracy in that government, it is, I think, essential to make a rapid review of past events in that country.

In ancient times the Mikado was both the civil ruler and the military leader of his people. Under him there were exercising authority throughout the land about 150 feudal lords. Feudalism of one kind or another prevailed in Japan until 1868. Towards the end of the sixteenth century the feudal principle was apparently on the decline. In the year 1600, however, Tokagawa Iyoyasu, with an army composed of the clans of the east and north defeated the combined forces of those of the west and south at the battle of Sakigahara and proclaimed himself Shogun. The feudal lords of the various clans throughout the country then became his vassals and paid homage to him. The Tokagawa family practically governed the country till the Revolution of 1868, when the present Emperor took the reins of government into his own hands and finally abolished feudalism and with it the authority of the Daimios. Many persons even now believe that the Shogun, or Tycoon as he was usually called in Europe, was a usurper. As a matter of fact he received investiture from the Mikado, and his authority was, nominally at any rate, a derived one. At the same time there is no doubt that the real power of the State was in his hands while the de jure ruler lived in the capital in complete seclusion surrounded by all the appanages and ceremonial of royalty.

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