Gleaings in Buddha-Fields, by Lafcadio Hearn, , at sacred-texts.com
Takaki ya ni
Tami no kamado wa
Nigiwai ni kéri.
(When I ascend a high place and look about me, lo! the smoke is rising: the cooking ranges of the people are busy.)
Song of the Emperor NINTOKU.
NEARLY three hundred years ago, Captain John Saris, visiting Japan in the service of the "Right Honourable Companye, ye marchants of London trading into ye East Indyes," wrote concerning the great city of Ôsaka (as the name is now transliterated):—"We found Osaca to be a very great towne, as great as London within the walls, with many faire timber bridges of a great height, seruing to passe ouer a riuer there as wide as the Thames at London. Some faire houses
we found there, but not many. It is one of the chiefe sea-ports of all Iapan; hauing a castle in it, maruellous large and strong" . . . What Captain Saris said of the Ôsaka of the seventeenth century is almost equally true of the Ôsaka of to-day. It is still a very great city and one of the chief seaports of all Japan; it contains, according to the Occidental idea, "some faire houses;" it has many "faire timber bridges (as well as bridges of steel and stone)—seruing to passe ouer a river as wide as the Thames at London,"—the Yodogawa; and the castle "marvellous large and strong," built by Hideyoshi after the plan of a Chinese fortress of the Han dynasty, still remains something for military engineers to wonder at, in spite of the disappearance of the many-storied towers, and the destruction (in 1868) of the magnificent palace.
Ôsaka is more than two thousand five hundred years old, and therefore one of the most ancient cities of Japan,—though its present name, a contraction of Oye no Saka, meaning the High Land of the Great River, is believed to date back only to the fifteenth
century, before which time it was called Naniwa. Centuries before Europe knew of the existence of Japan, Ôsaka was the great financial and commercial centre of the empire; and it is that still. Through all the feudal era, the merchants of Ôsaka were the bankers and creditors of the Japanese princes: they exchanged the revenues of rice for silver and gold;—they kept in their miles of fireproof warehouses the national stores of cereals, of cotton, and of silk;—and they furnished to great captains the sinews of war. Hideyoshi made Ôsaka his military capital;—Iyeyasu, jealous and keen, feared the great city, and deemed it necessary to impoverish its capitalists because of their financial power.
The Ôsaka of 1896, covering a vast area has a population of about 670,000. As to extent and population, it is now only the second city of the empire; but it remains, as Count Okuma remarked in a recent speech, financially, industrially, and commercially superior to Tôkyô. Sakai, and Hyôgo, and Kobé are really but its outer ports; and the last-named is visibly outgrowing, Yokohama. It is confidently predicted, both by foreigners
and by Japanese, that Kobé will become the chief port of foreign trade, because Ôsaka is able to attract to herself the best business talent of the country. At present the foreign import and export trade of Ôsaka represents about $120,000,000 a year; and its inland and coasting trade are immense. Almost everything which everybody wants is made in Ôsaka; and there are few comfortable Japanese homes in any part of the empire to the furnishing of which Ôsaka industry has not contributed something. This was probably the case long before Tôkyô existed. There survives an ancient song of which the burden runs,—"Every day to Ôsaka come a thousand ships." Junks only, in the time when the song was written; steamers also to-day, and deep-sea travelers of all rigs. Along the wharves you can ride for miles by a seemingly endless array of masts and funnels,—though the great Trans-Pacific liners and European mail-steamers draw too much water to enter the harbor, and receive their Ôsaka freight at Kobé. But the energetic city, which has its own steamship companies, now proposes to improve its port, at a cost of $16,000,000. An
Ôsaka with a population of two millions, and a foreign trade of at least 9300,000,000 a year, is not a dream impossible to realize in the next half century. I need scarcely say that Ôsaka is the centre of the great trade-guilds, and the headquarters of those cotton-spinning companies whose mills, kept running with a single shift twenty-three hours out of the twenty-four, turn out double the quantity of yarn per spindle that English mills turn out, and from thirty to forty per cent. more than the mills of Bombay.
Every great city in the world is believed to give a special character to its inhabitants; and in Japan the man of Ôsaka is said to be recognizable almost at sight. I think it can be said that the character of the man of the capital is less marked than that of the man of Ôsaka,—as in America the man of Chicago is more quickly recognized than the New Yorker or Bostonian. He has a certain quickness of perception, ready energy, and general air of being "well up to date," or even a little in advance of it, which represent the result
[1. There are upwards of four hundred commercial companies in Ôsaka.]
of industrial and commercial intercompetition. At all events, the Ôsaka merchant or manufacturer has a much longer inheritance of business experience than his rival of the political capital. Perhaps this may partly account for the acknowledged superiority of Ôsaka commercial travelers; a modernized class, offering some remarkable types. While journeying by rail or steamer you may happen to make the casual acquaintance of a gentleman whose nationality you cannot safely decide even after some conversation. He is dressed with the most correct taste in the latest and best mode; he can talk to you equally well in French, German, or English; he is perfectly courteous, but able to adapt himself to the most diverse characters; he knows Europe; and he can give you extraordinary information about parts of the Far East which you have visited, and also about other parts of which you do not even know the names. As for Japan, he is familiar with the special products of every district, their comparative merits, their history. His face is pleasing,—nose straight or slightly aquiline,—mouth veiled by a heavy black moustache: the
eyelids alone give you some right to suppose that you are conversing with an Oriental. Such is one type of the Ôsaka commercial traveler of 1896,—a being as far superior to the average Japanese petty official as a prince to a lackey. Should you meet the same man in his own city, you would probably find him in Japanese costume,—dressed as only a man of fine taste can learn how to dress, and looking rather like a Spaniard or Italian in disguise than a Japanese.
From the reputation of Ôsaka as a centre of production and distribution, one would imagine it the most modernized, the least characteristically Japanese, of all Japanese cities. But Ôsaka is the reverse. Fewer Western costumes are to be seen in Ôsaka than in any other large city of Japan. No crowds are more attractively robed, and no streets more picturesque, than those of the great mart.
Ôsaka is supposed to set many fashions; and the present ones show an agreeable tendency to variety of tint. When I first came
to Japan the dominant colors of male costume were dark,—especially dark blue; any crowd of men usually presenting a mass of this shade. To-day the tones are lighter; and greys—warm greys, steel greys, bluish greys, purplish greys—seem to predominate. But there are also many pleasing variations,—bronze-colors, gold-browns, "tea-colors," for example. Women's costumes are of course more varied; but the character of the fashions for adults of either sex indicates no tendency to abandon the rules of severe good taste;—gay colors appearing only in the attire of children and of dancing-girls,—to whom are granted the privileges of perpetual youth. I may observe that the latest fashion in the silk upper-dress, or haori, of geisha, is a burning sky-blue,—a tropical color that makes the profession of the wearer distinguishable miles away. The higher-class geisha, however, affect sobriety in dress. I must also speak of the long overcoats or overcloaks worn out-of-doors in cold weather by both sexes. That of the men looks like an adaptation and modification of our "ulster," and has a little cape attached to it: the material
is wool, and the color usually light brown or grey. That of the ladies, which has no cape, is usually of black broadcloth, with much silk binding, and a collar cut low in front. It is buttoned from throat to feet, and looks decidedly genteel, though left very wide and loose at the back to accommodate the bow of the great heavy silk girdle beneath.
Architecturally not less than fashionably, Ôsaka remains almost as Japanese as anybody could wish. Although some wide thoroughfares exist, most of the streets are very narrow,—even more narrow than those of Kyôto. There are streets of three-story houses and streets of two-story houses; but there are square miles of houses one story high. The great mass of the city is an agglomeration of low wooden buildings with tiled roofs. Nevertheless the streets are more interesting, brighter, quainter in their signs and sign-painting, than the streets of Tôkyô; and the city as a whole is more picturesque than Tôkyô because of its waterways. It has not inaptly been termed the Venice of Japan; for it is traversed in all directions by canals, besides
being separated into several large portions by the branchings of the Yodogawa. The streets facing the river are, however, much less interesting than the narrow canals.
Anything more curious in the shape of a street vista than the view looking down one of these waterways can scarcely be found in Japan. Still as a mirror surface, the canal flows between high stone embankments supporting the houses,—houses of two or three stories, all sparred out from the stonework so that their façades bodily overhang the water. They are huddled together in a way suggesting, pressure from behind; and this appearance of squeezing and crowding is strengthened by the absence of regularity in design,—no house being exactly like another, but all having an indefinable Far-Eastern queerness,—a sort of racial character,—that gives the sensation of the very-far-away in place and time. They push out funny little galleries with balustrades; barred, projecting, glassless windows with elfish balconies under them, and rooflets over them like eyebrows; tiers of tiled and, tilted awnings; and great eaves which, in certain hours, throw shadows down to the
foundation. As most of the timber-work is dark,—either with age or staining,—the shadows look deeper than they really are. Within them you catch glimpses of balcony pillars, bamboo ladders from gallery to gallery, polished angles of joinery,—all kinds of jutting things. At intervals you can see mattings hanging out, and curtains of split bamboo, and cotton hangings with big white ideographs upon them; and all this is faithfully repeated upside down in the water. The colors ought to delight an artist,—umbers and chocolates and chestnut-browns of old polished timber; warm yellows of mattings and bamboo screens; creamy tones of stuccoed surfaces; cool greys of tiling. . . . The last such vista I saw was bewitched by a spring haze. It was early morning. Two hundred yards from the bridge on which I stood, the house fronts began to turn blue; farther on, they were transparently vapory; and yet farther, they seemed to melt away suddenly into the light,—a procession of dreams. I watched the progress of a boat propelled by a peasant in straw hat and straw coat,—like the peasants of the old picture-books. Boat and man turned bright blue and
then grey, and then, before my eyes,—glided into Nirvana. The notion of immateriality so created by that luminous haze was supported by the absence of sound; for these canal-streets are as silent as the streets of shops are noisy.
No other city in Japan has so many bridges as Ôsaka: wards are named after them, and distances marked by them,—reckoning always from Koraibashi, the Bridge of the Koreans, as a centre. Ôsaka people find their way to any place most readily by remembering the name of the bridge nearest to it. But as there are one hundred and eighty-nine principal bridges, this method of reckoning can be of little service to a stranger. If a business man, he can find whatever he wants without learning the names of the bridges. Ôsaka is the best-ordered city, commercially, in the empire, and one of the best-ordered in the world. It has always been a city of guilds; and the various trades and industries are congregated still, according to ancient custom, in special districts or particular streets. Thus all the money-changers are
in Kitahama,—the Lombard Street of Japan the dry-goods trade monopolizes Honmachi; the timber merchants are all in Nagabori and Nishi-Yokobori; the toy-makers are in Minami Kiuhojimachi and Kita Midômae; the dealers in metal wares have Andojibashidôri to themselves; the druggists are in Doshiômachi, and the cabinet-makers in Hachimansuji. So with many other trades; and so with the places of amusement. The theatres are in the Dôtombori; the jugglers, singers, dancers, acrobats, and fortune-tellers in the Sennichimae, close by.
The central part of Ôsaka contains many very large buildings,—including theatres, refreshment-houses, and hotels having a reputation throughout the country. The number of edifices in Western style is nevertheless remarkably small. There are indeed between eight and nine hundred factory chimneys; but the factories, with few exceptions, are not constructed on Western plans. The really "foreign" buildings include a hotel, a prefectual hall with a mansard roof, a city hall with a classical porch of granite pillars, a good modern post-office, a mint, an arsenal, and sundry
mills and breweries. But these are so scattered and situated that they really make no particular impression at variance with the Far-Eastern character of the city. However, there is one purely foreign corner,—the old Concession, dating back to a time before Kobé existed. Its streets were well laid out, and its buildings solidly constructed; but for various reasons it has been abandoned to the missionaries,—only one of the old firms, with perhaps an agency or two, remaining open. This deserted settlement is an oasis of silence in the great commercial wilderness. No attempts have been made by the native merchants to imitate its styles of building: indeed, no Japanese city shows less favor than Ôsaka to Occidental architecture. This is not through want of appreciation, but because of economical experience. Ôsaka will build in Western style—with stone, brick, and iron only when and where the advantage of so
[1. The foreign legations left Ôsaka to take shelter at Kobé in 1868, during the civil war; for they could not be very well protected by their men-of-war in Ôsaka. Kobé once settled, the advantages offered by its deep harbor settled the fate of the Ôsaka Concession.]
doing is indubitable. There will be no speculation in such constructions, as there has been at Tôkyô: Ôsaka "goes slow" and invests upon certainties. When there is a certainty, her merchants can make remarkable offers,—like that to the government two years ago of $56,000,000 for the purchase and reconstruction of a railway. Of all the houses in Ôsaka, the office of the "Asahi Shimbun" most surprised me. The "Asahi Shimbun" is the greatest of Japanese newspapers,—perhaps the greatest journal published in any Oriental language. It is an illustrated daily, conducted very much like a Paris newspaper,—publishing a feuilleton, translations from foreign fiction, and columns of light, witty chatter about current events. It pays big sums to popular writers, and spends largely for correspondence and telegraphic news. Its illustrations—now made by a woman—offer as full a reflection of all phases of Japanese life, old or new, as Punch gives of English life. It uses perfecting presses, charters special trains, and has a circulation reaching into most parts of the empire. So I certainly expected to find the "Asahi Shimbun" office
one of the handsomest buildings in Ôsaka. But it proved to be an old-time Samurai-yashiki,— about the most quiet and modest-looking place in the whole district where it was situated.
I must confess that all this sober and sensible conservatism delighted me. The competitive power of Japan must long depend upon her power to maintain the old simplicity of life.
Ôsaka is the great commercial school of the empire. From all parts of Japan lads are sent there to learn particular branches of industry or trade. There are hosts of applications for any vacancy; and the business men are said to be very cautious in choosing their detchi, or apprentice-clerks. Careful inquiries are made as to the personal character and family history of applicants. No money is paid by the parents or relatives of the apprentices. The term of service varies according to the nature of the trade or industry; but it is generally quite as long as the term of apprenticeship in Europe; and in some branches of
business it may be from twelve to fourteen years. Such, I am told, is the time of service usually exacted in the dry goods business; and the detchi in a dry goods house may have to work fifteen hours a day, with not more than one holiday a month. During the whole of his apprenticeship he receives no wages whatever,—nothing but his board, lodging, and absolutely necessary clothing. His master is supposed to furnish him with two robes a year, and to keep him in sandals, or geta. Perhaps on some great holiday he may be presented with a small gift of pocket money;—but this is not in the bond. When his term of service ends, however, his master either gives him capital enough to begin trade for himself on a small scale, or finds some other way of assisting him substantially,—by credit, for instance. Many detchi marry their employers' daughters, in which event the young couple are almost sure of getting a good start in life.
The discipline of these long apprenticeships may be considered a severe test of character. Though a detchi is never addressed harshly, he has to bear what no European clerk would bear. He has no leisure,—no time of his own
except the time necessary for sleep; he must work quietly but steadily from dawn till late in the evening; he must content himself with the simplest diet, must keep himself neat, and must never show ill-temper. Wild oats he is not supposed to have, and no chance is given him to sow them. Some detchi never even leave their shop, night or day, for months at a time,—sleeping on the same mats where they sit in business hours. The trained salesmen in the great silk stores are especially confined within doors,—and their unhealthy pallor is proverbial. Year after year they squat in the same place, for twelve or fifteen hours every day; and you wonder why their legs do not fall off, like those of Daruma.
Occasionally there are moral break-downs. Perhaps a detchi misappropriates some of the shop money, and spends the same in riotous living. Perhaps he does even worse. But,
[1. In Japanese popular legend, Daruma (Bodhidharma), the great Buddhist patriarch and missionary, is said to have lost his legs during a meditation which lasted uninterruptedly for nine years. A common child's toy is a comical figure of Daruma, without legs, and so weighted within that, no matter how thrown down, it will always assume an upright position.]
whatever the matter may be, he seldom thinks of running away. If he takes a spree, he hides himself after it for a day or two;—then returns of his own accord to confess, and ask pardon. He will be forgiven for two, three, perhaps even four escapades,—provided that he shows no signs of a really evil heart,—and be lectured about his weakness in its relation to his prospects, to the feelings of his family, to the honor of his ancestors, and to business requirements in general. The difficulties of his position are kindly considered, and he is never discharged for a small misdemeanor. A dismissal would probably ruin him for life; and every care is taken to open his eyes to certain dangers. Ôsaka is really the most unsafe place in Japan to play the fool in;—its dangerous and vicious classes are more to be feared than those of the capital; and the daily news of the great city furnishes the apprentice with terrible examples of men reduced to poverty or driven to self-destruction through neglect of those very rules of conduct which it is part of his duty to learn.
In cases where detchi are taken into service
at a very early age, and brought up in the shop almost like adopted sons, a very strong bond of affection between master and apprentice is sometimes established. Instances of extraordinary devotion to masters, or members of masters' households, are often reported. Sometimes the bankrupt merchant is reëstablished in business by his former clerk. Sometimes, again, the affection of a detchi may exhibit itself in strange extremes. Last year there was a curious case. The only son of a merchant—a lad of twelve—died of cholera during the epidemic. A detchi of fourteen, who had been much attached to the dead boy, committed suicide shortly after the funeral by throwing himself down in front of a train. He left a letter, of which the following is a tolerably close translation,—the selfish pronouns being absent in the original:
"Very long time in, august help received; honorable mercy even, not in words to be declared. Now going to die, unfaithful in excess;—yet another state in, making rebirth, honorable mercy will repay. Spirit anxious only in the matter of little sister
O-Noto;—with humble salutation, that she be honorably seen to, supplicate.
"To the August Lord Master,
It is not true that Old Japan is rapidly disappearing. It cannot disappear within at least another hundred years; perhaps it will never entirely disappear. Many curious and beautiful things have vanished; but Old Japan survives in art, in faith, in customs and habits, in the hearts and the homes of the people: it may be found everywhere by those who know how to look for it,—and nowhere more easily than in this great city of ship-building, watch-making, beer-brewing, and cotton-spinning. I confess that I went to Ôsaka chiefly to see the temples, especially the famous Tennôji.
Tennôji, or, more correctly, Shitennôji, the Temple of the Four Deva Kings, is one of
[1. They defend the four quarters of the world. In Japanese their names are Jikoku, Komoku, Zocho, Bishamon (or Tamon);—in Sanscrit, Dhritarashtra, Virupaksha, Virudhaka, and Vaisravana,—the Kuvera of Brahmanism.]
the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan. It was founded early in the seventh century by Umayado-no-Oji, now called Shôtoku Taishi, son of the Emperor Yômei, and prince regent under the Empress Suiko (572-621 A. D.). He has been well called the Constantine of Japanese Buddhism; for he decided the future of Buddhism in the Empire, first by a great battle in the reign of his father, Yomei Tennô, and afterwards by legal enactments and by the patronage of Buddhist learning. The previous Emperor, Bitatsu Tennô, had permitted the preaching of Buddhism by Korean priests, and had built two temples. But under the reign of Yomei, one Mononobé no Moriya, a powerful noble, and a bitter opponent of the foreign religion, rebelled against such tolerance, burned the temples, banished the priests, and offered battle to the imperial forces. These, tradition says, were being driven back when the Emperor's son—then only sixteen years old—vowed if victorious to build a temple to the Four Deva Kings. Instantly at his side in the fight there towered a colossal figure from before whose face the powers of Moriya broke and fled away. The rout of the
enemies of Buddhism was complete and terrible; and the young prince, thereafter called Shôtoku Taishi, kept his vow. The temple of Tennôji was built, and the wealth of the rebel Moriya applied to its maintenance. In that part of it called the Kondô, or Hall of Gold, Shôtoku Taishi enshrined the first Buddhist image ever brought to Japan,—a figure of Nyo-i-rin Kwannon, or Kwannon of the Circle of Wishes,—and the statue is still shown to the public on certain festival days. The tremendous apparition in the battle is said to have been one of the Four Kings,—Bishamon (Vaisravana), worshiped to this day as a giver of victory.
The sensation received on passing out of the bright, narrow, busy streets of shops into the mouldering courts of Tennôji is indescribable. Even for a Japanese I imagine it must be like a sensation of the supernatural,—a return in memory to the life of twelve hundred years ago, to the time of the earliest Buddhist mission work in Japan. Symbols of the faith, that elsewhere had become for me conventionally familiar, here seemed but half familiar, exotic, prototypal; and things never
before seen gave me the startling notion of a time and place out of existing life. As a matter of fact, very little remains of the original structure of the temple; parts have been burned, parts renovated. But the impression is still very peculiar, because the rebuilders and the renovators always followed the original plans, made by some great Korean or Chinese architect. Any attempt to write of the antique aspect, the queer melancholy beauty of the place, would be hopeless. To know what Tennôji is, one must see the weirdness of its decay,—the beautiful neutral tones of old timbers, the fading spectral greys and yellows of wall-surfaces, the eccentricities of disjointing, the extraordinary carvings under eaves,—carvings of waves and clouds and dragons and demons, once splendid with lacquer and gold, now time-whitened to the tint of smoke, and looking as if about to curl away like smoke and vanish. The most remarkable of these carvings belong to a fantastic five-storied pagoda, now ruinous: nearly all the brazen wind-bells suspended to the angles of its tiers of roofs have fallen. Pagoda and temple proper occupy a quadrangular
court surrounded by an open cloister. Beyond are other courts, a Buddhist school, and an immense pond peopled by tortoises and crossed by a massive stone bridge. There are statues and stone lamps and lions and an enormous temple-drum;—there are booths for the sale of toys and oddities;—there are resting-places where tea is served, and cake-stands where you can buy cakes for the tortoises or for a pet deer, which approaches the visitor, bowing its sleek head to beg. There is a two-storied gateway guarded by huge images of the Ni-Ô,—Ni-Ô with arms and legs muscled like the limbs of kings in the Assyrian sculptures, and bodies speckled all over with little balls of white paper spat upon them by the faithful. There is another gateway whose chambers are empty;—perhaps they once contained images of the Four Deva Kings. There are ever so many curious things; but I shall only venture to describe two or three of my queerest experiences.
First of all, I found the confirmation of a certain suspicion that had come to me as I entered the temple precincts,—the suspicion that the forms of worship were peculiar as the
buildings. I can give no reason for this feeling; I can only say that, immediately after passing the outer gate, I had a premonition of being about to see the extraordinary in religion as well as in architecture. And I presently saw it in the bell-tower,—a two-story Chinese-looking structure, where there is a bell called the Indô-no-Kané, or Guiding-Bell, because its sounds guide the ghosts of children through the dark. The lower chamber of the bell-tower is fitted up as a chapel. At the first glance I noticed only that a Buddhist service was going on; I saw tapers burning, the golden glimmer of a shrine, incense smoking, a priest at prayer, women and children kneeling. But as I stopped for a moment before the entrance to observe the image in the shrine, I suddenly became aware of the unfamiliar, the astonishing. On shelves and stands at either side of the shrine, and above it and below it and beyond it, were ranged hundreds of children's ihai, or mortuary tablets, and with them thousands of toys; little dogs and horses and cows, and warriors and drums and trumpets, and pasteboard armor and wooden swords, and dolls and kites and
masks and monkeys, and models of boats, and baby tea-sets and baby-furniture, and whirligigs and comical images of the Gods of Good Fortune,—toys modern and toys of fashion forgotten,—toys accumulated through centuries,—toys of whole generations of dead children. From the ceiling, and close to the entrance, bung down a great heavy bell-rope, nearly four inches in diameter and of many colors,—the rope of the Indô-Kané. And that rope was made of the bibs of dead children,—yellow, blue, scarlet, purple bibs, and bibs of all intermediate shades. The ceiling itself was invisible,—hidden from view by hundreds of tiny dresses suspended,—dresses of dead children. Little boys and girls, kneeling or playing on the matting beside the priest, had brought toys with them, to be deposited in the chapel, before the tablet of some lost brother or sister. Every moment some bereaved father or mother would come to the door, pull the bell-rope, throw some copper money on the matting, and make a prayer. Each time the bell sounds, some little ghost is believed to hear,—perhaps even to find its way back for one more look at loved toys
and faces. The plaintive murmur of Namu Amida Butsu; the clanging of the bell; the deep humming of the priest's voice, reciting the Sutras; the tinkle of falling coin; the sweet, heavy smell of incense; the passionless golden beauty of the Buddha in his shrine; the colorific radiance of the toys; the shadowing of the baby-dresses; the variegated wonder of that bell-rope of bibs; the happy laughter of the little folk at play on the floor,—all made for me an experience of weird pathos never to be forgotten.
Not far from the bell-tower is another curious building, which shelters a sacred spring. In the middle of the floor is an opening, perhaps ten feet long by eight wide, surrounded by a railing. Looking down over the railing, you see, in the dimness below, a large stone basin, into which water is pouring from the mouth of a great stone tortoise, black with age, and only half visible,—its hinder part reaching back into the darkness under the floor. This water is called the Spring of the Tortoise,—Kamé-i-Sui. The basin into which it flows is more than half
full of white paper,—countless slips of white paper, each bearing in Chinese text the kaimyô, or Buddhist posthumous name of a dead person. In a matted recess of the building sits a priest who for a small fee writes the kaimyô. The purchaser—relative or friend of the dead—puts one end of the written slip into the mouth of a bamboo cup, or rather bamboo joint, fixed at right angles to the end of a long pole. By aid of this pole he lowers the paper, with the written side up, to the mouth of the tortoise, and holds it under the gush of water,—repeating a Buddhist invocation the while,—till it is washed out into the basin. When I visited the spring there was a dense crowd; and several kaimyô were being held under the month of the tortoise;—numbers of pious folk meantime waiting, with papers in their hands, for a chance to use the poles. The murmuring of Namu Amida Butsu was itself like the sound of rushing water. I was told that the basin becomes filled with kaimyô every few days;—then it is emptied, and the papers burned. If this be true, it is a remarkable proof of the force of Buddhist faith in this busy commercial city;
for many thousands of such slips of paper would be needed to fill the basin. It is said that the water bears the names of the dead and the prayers of the living to Shôtoku Taishi, who uses his powers of intercession with Amida on behalf of the faithful.
In the chapel called the Taishi-Dô there are statues of Shôtoku Taishi and his attendants. The figure of the prince, seated upon a chair of honor, is life-size and colored; he is attired in the fashion of twelve hundred years ago, wearing a picturesque cap, and Chinese or Korean shoes with points turned up. One may see the same costume in the designs upon very old porcelains or very old screens. But the face, in spite of its drooping Chinese moustaches, is a typical Japanese face,—dignified, kindly, passionless. I turned from the faces of the statues to the faces of the people about me to see the same types,—to meet the same quiet, half-curious, inscrutable gaze.
In powerful contrast to the ancient structures of Tennôji are the vast Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji, almost exact counterparts of the
Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji of Tôkyô. Nearly every great city of Japan has a pair of such Hongwanji (Temples of the True Vow)—one belonging to the Western (Nishi), the other to the Eastern (Higashi) branch of this great Shin sect, founded in the thirteenth century. Varying in dimension according to the wealth and religious importance of the locality, but usually built upon the same general plan, they may be said to represent the most modern and the most purely Japanese form of Buddhist architecture,—immense, dignified, magnificent.
But they likewise represent the almost protestant severity of the rite in regard to symbols, icons, and external forms. Their plain and ponderous gates are never guarded by the giant Ni-Ô;—there is no swarming of dragons and demons under their enormous eaves;
[1. The division of the sect during the seventeenth century into two branches had a political, not a religious cause; and the sections remain religiously united. Their abbots are of Imperial descent, whence their title of Monzeki, or Imperial Offspring. Travelers may observe that the walls inclosing the temple grounds of this sect bear the same decorative mouldings as those of the walls of the Imperial residences.]
—no golden hosts of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas rise, rank on rank, by tiers of aureoles, through the twilight of their sanctuaries;—no curious or touching witnesses of grateful faith are ever suspended from their high ceilings, or hung before their altars, or fastened to the gratings of their doorways;—they contain no ex-votos, no paper knots recording prayer, no symbolic image but one,—and that usually small,—the figure of Amida. Probably the reader knows that the Hongwanji sect represents a movement in Buddhism not altogether unlike that which Unitarianism represents in Liberal Christianity. In its rejection of celibacy and of all ascetic practices; its prohibition of charms, divinations, votive offerings, and even of all prayer excepting prayer for salvation; its insistence upon industrious effort as the duty of life; its maintenance of the sanctity of marriage as a religious bond; its doctrine of one eternal Buddha as Father and Saviour; its promise of Paradise after death as the immediate reward of a good life; and, above all, in its educational zeal,—the religion of the "Sect of the Pure Land" may be justly said to have
much in common with the progressive forms of Western Christianity, and it has certainly won the respect of the few men of culture who find their way into the missionary legion. Judged by its wealth, its respectability, and its antagonism to the grosser forms of Buddhist superstition, it might be supposed the least emotional of all forms of Buddhism. But in some respects it is probably the most emotional. No other Buddhist sect can make such appeals to the faith and love of the common people as those which brought into being the amazing Eastern Hongwanji temple of Kyôto. Yet while able to reach the simplest minds by special methods of doctrinal teaching, the Hongwanji cult can make equally strong appeal to the intellectual classes by reason of its scholarship. Not a few of its priests are graduates of the leading universities of the West; and some have won European reputations in various departments of Buddhist learning. Whether the older Buddhist sects are likely to dwindle away before the constantly increasing power of the Shinshû is at least an interesting question. Certainly the latter has everything in its favor,
—imperial recognition, wealth, culture, and solidity of organization. On the other hand, one is tempted to doubt the efficacy of such advantages in a warfare against habits of thought and feeling older by many centuries than Shinshû. Perhaps the Occident furnishes a precedent on which to base predictions. Remembering how strong Roman Catholicism remains to-day, how little it has changed since the days of Luther, how impotent our progressive creeds to satisfy the old spiritual hunger for some visible object of worship,—something to touch, or put close to the heart,—it becomes difficult to believe that the iconolatry of the more ancient Buddhist sects will not continue for hundreds of years to keep a large place in popular affection. Again, it is worthy of remark that one curious obstacle to the expansion of the Shinshû is to be found in a very deeply rooted race feeling on the subject of self-sacrifice. Although much corruption undoubtedly exists in the older sects,—although numbers of their priests do not even pretend to observe the vows regarding diet and celibacy,—the
[1. This has been especially the case since the abrogation p. 166 of the civil laws forbidding priests to marry. The wives of the priests of other sects than the Shinshû are called by a humorous and not very respectful appellation.]
ancient ideals are by no means dead; and the majority of Japanese Buddhists still disapprove of the relatively pleasurable lives of the Shinshû priesthood. In some of the remoter provinces, where Shinshû is viewed with especial disfavor, one may often hear children singing a naughty song (Shinshû bozu e mon da!), which might thus be freely rendered:
Shinshû priest to be,—
What a nice thing!
Wife has, child has,
Good fish eats.
It reminded me of those popular criticisms of Buddhist conduct uttered in the time of the Buddha himself, and so often recorded in the Vinaya texts,—almost like a refrain:—"Then the people were annoyed; and they murmured and complained, saying: 'These act like men who are still enjoying the pleasures of this world!' And they told the thing to the Blessed One."
Besides Tennôji, Ôsaka has many famous temples, both Buddhist and Shintô, with very
ancient histories. Of such is Kôzu-no-yashiro, where the people pray to the spirit of Nintoku,—most beloved in memory of all Japanese emperors. He had a palace on the same hill where his shrine now stands; and this site—whence a fine view of the city can be obtained—is the scene of a pleasing legend preserved in the Kojiki:—
. . . "Thereupon the Heavenly Sovereign, ascending a lofty mountain and looking on the land all round, spoke, saying:—'In the whole land there rises no smoke; the land is all poverty-stricken. So I remit all the people's taxes and forced labor from now till three years hence.' Thereupon the great palace became dilapidated, and the rain leaked in everywhere; but no repairs were made. The rain that leaked in was caught in troughs, and the inmates removed to places where there was no leakage. When later the Heavenly Sovereign looked upon the land, the smoke was abundant in the land. So, finding the people rich, he now exacted taxes and forced labor. Therefore the peasantry prospered, and did not suffer from the forced labor. So, in praise of that august reign, it was called the Reign of the Emperor-Sage."
[1. See Professor Chamberlain's translation of the Kojiki, section CXXI.]
That was fifteen hundred years ago. Now, could the good Emperor see, from his shrine of Kôzu,—as thousands must believe he does,—the smoke of modern Ôsaka, he might well think, "My people are becoming too rich."
Outside of the city there is a still more famous Shintô temple, Sumiyoshi, dedicated to certain sea-gods who aided the Empress Jingô to conquer Korea. At Sumiyoshi there are pretty child-priestesses, and beautiful grounds, and an enormous pond spanned by a bridge so humped that, to cross it without taking off your shoes, you must cling to the parapet. At Sakai there is the Buddhist temple of Myôkokuji, in the garden of which are some very old palm-trees;—one of them, removed by Nobunaga in the sixteenth century, is said to have cried out and lamented until it was taken back to the temple. You see the ground under these palms covered with what looks like a thick, shiny, disordered mass of fur,—half reddish and half silvery grey. It is not fur. It is a heaping of millions of needles thrown there by pilgrims "to feed the palms," because these trees are said to love
iron and to be strengthened by absorbing its rust.
Speaking of trees, I may mention the Naniwaya "Kasa-matsu," or Hat-Pine,—not so much because it is an extraordinary tree as because it supports a large family who keep a little tea-house on the road to Sakai. The branches of the tree have been trained outwards and downwards over a framework of poles, so that the whole presents the appearance of an enormous green bat of the shape worn by peasants and called Kasa. The pine is scarcely six feet high, but covers perhaps twenty square yards;—its trunk, of course, not being visible at all from outside the framework supporting the branches. Many people visit the house to look at the pine and drink a cup of tea; and nearly every visitor buys some memento of it,—perhaps a woodcut of the tree, or a printed copy of verses written by some poet in praise of it, or a girl's hair-pin, the top of which is a perfect little green model or the tree,—framework of poles and all,—with one tiny stork perched on it. The owners of the Naniwaya, as their teahouse is called, are not only able to make a good
living, but to educate their children, by the exhibition of this tree, and the sale of such mementos.
I do not intend to tax my reader's patience by descriptions of the other famous temples of Ôsaka,—several of which are enormously old, and have most curious legends attached to them. But I may venture a few words about the cemetery of the Temple of One Soul,—or better, perhaps, the Temple of a Single Mind: Isshinji. The monuments there are the most extraordinary I ever saw. Near the main gate is the tomb of a wrestler,—Asahigorô Hachirô. His name is chiseled upon a big disk of stone, probably weighing a ton; and this disk is supported on the back of a stone image of a wrestler,—a grotesque figure, with gilded eyes starting from their sockets, and features apparently distorted by effort. It is a very queer thing,—half-comical, half-furious of aspect. Close by is the tomb of one Hirayama Hambei,—a monument shaped like a hyôtan,—that is to say, like a wine-gourd such as travelers use for carrying saké. The most usual form of hyôtan resembles that
of an hour-glass, except that the lower part is somewhat larger than the upper; and the vessel can only stand upright when full or partly full,—so that in a Japanese song the wine-lover is made to say to his gourd, "With you I fall." Apparently the mighty to drink wine have a district all to themselves in this cemetery; for there are several other monuments of like form in the same row,—also one shaped like a very large saké-bottle (isshôdokkuri), on which is inscribed a verse not taken from the sutras. But the oddest monument of all is a great stone badger, sitting upright, and seeming to strike its belly with its forepaws. On the belly is cut a name, Inouyé Dennosuké, together with the verse:—
Tsuki yo yoshi
Which means about as follows:—"On fine moonlight-nights, repeating the Nembutsu, I play the belly-drum." The flower-vases are in the form of saké-bottles. Artificial rock-work supports the monument; and here and there,
[1. That is, a bottle containing one sho,—about a quart and a half.]
among the rocks, are smaller figures of badgers, dressed like Buddhist priests (tanuki-bozu). My readers probably know that the Japanese tanuki is credited with the power of assuming human shape, and of making musical sounds like the booming of a hand-drum by tapping upon its belly. It is said often to disguise itself as a Buddhist priest for mischievous purposes, and to be very fond of saké. Of course, such images in a cemetery represent nothing more than eccentricities, and are judged to be in bad taste. One is reminded of certain jocose paintings and inscriptions upon Greek and Roman tombs, expressing in regard to death—or rather in regard to life—a sentiment, or an affectation of sentiment, repellent to modern feeling.
I said in a former essay that a Japanese city is little more than a wilderness of wooden sheds, and Ôsaka is no exception.
[1. Although tanuki is commonly translated by "badger," the creature so called is not a real badger, but a kind of fruit-fox. It is also termed the "raccoon-faced dog." The true badger is, however, also found in Japan.]
But interiorly a very large number of the frail wooden dwellings of any Japanese city are works of art; and perhaps no city possesses more charming homes than Ôsaka. Kyôto is, indeed, much richer in gardens,—there being comparatively little space for gardens in Ôsaka; but I am speaking of the houses only. Exteriorly a Japanese street may appear little better than a row of wooden barns or stables, but the interior of any dwelling in it may be a wonder of beauty. Usually the outside of a Japanese house is not at all beautiful, though it may have a certain pleasing oddity of form; and in many cases the walls of the rear or sides are covered. with charred boards, of which the blackened and hardened surfaces are said to resist heat and damp better than any coating of paint or stucco could do. Except, perhaps, the outside of a coal-shed, nothing dingier-looking could be imagined. But the other side of the black walls may be an æsthetic delight. The comparative cheapness of the residence does not much affect this possibility;—for the Japanese excel all nations in obtaining the maximum of beauty with the minimum of cost;
while the most industrially advanced of Western peoples—the practical Americans—have yet only succeeded in obtaining the minimum of beauty with the maximum of cost! Much about Japanese interiors can be learned from Morse's "Japanese Homes;" but even that admirable book gives only the black-and-white notion of the subject; and more than half of the charm of such interiors is the almost inexplicable caress of color. To illustrate Mr. Morse's work so as to interpret the colorific charm would be a dearer and a more difficult feat than the production of Racinet's "Costumes Historique." Even thus the subdued luminosity, the tone of perfect repose, the revelations of delicacy and daintiness waiting the eye in every nook of chambers seemingly contrived to catch and keep the feeling of perpetual summer, would remain unguessed. Five years ago I wrote that a little acquaintance with the Japanese art of flower arrangement had made it impossible for me to endure the sight of that vulgarity, or rather brutality, which in the West we call a "bouquet." To-day I must add that familiarity with Japanese interiors has equally disgusted me with
Occidental interiors, no matter how spacious or comfortable or richly furnished. Returning now to Western life, I should feel like Thomas-the-Rhymer revisiting a world of ugliness and sorrow after seven years of fairyland.
It is possible, as has been alleged (though I cannot believe it), that Western artists have little more to learn from the study of Japanese pictorial art. But I am quite sure that our house-builders have universes of facts to learn—especially as regards the treatment and tinting of surfaces—from the study of Japanese interiors. Whether the countless styles of these interiors can even be classed appears to me a doubtful question. I do not think that in a hundred thousand Japanese houses there are two interiors precisely alike—(excluding, of course, the homes of the poorest classes),—for the designer never repeats himself when he can help it. The lesson he has to teach is the lesson of perfect taste combined with inexhaustible variety. Taste!—what a rare thing it is in our Western world!—and how independent of material,—how intuitive,—how incommunicable to the vulgar! But taste is a Japanese birthright.
It is everywhere present,—though varying in quality of development according to conditions and the inheritance depending upon conditions. The average Occidental recognizes only the commoner forms of it,—chiefly those made familiar by commercial export. And, as a general rule, what the West most admires in Japanese conventional taste is thought rather vulgar in Japan. Not that we are wrong in admiring whatever is beautiful in itself. Even the designs printed in tints upon a two-cent towel may be really great pictures: they are sometimes made by excellent artists. But the aristocratic severity of the best Japanese taste—the exquisite complexity of its refinements in the determination of proportion, quality, tone, restraint -has never yet been dreamed of by the West. Nowhere is this taste so finely exhibited as in private interiors,—particularly in regard to color. The rules of color in the composition of a set of rooms are not less exacting than the rules of color in the matter of dress,—though permitting considerable variety. The mere tones of a private house are enough to indicate its owner's degree of culture. There is no painting, no varnishing,
no wall-papering,—only staining and polishing of particular parts, and a sort of paper border about fifteen inches broad fixed along the bottom of a wall to protect it during cleaning and dusting operations. The plastering may be made with sands of different hues, or with fragments of shell and nacre, or with quartz-crystal, or with mica; the surface may imitate granite, or may sparkle like copper pyrites, or may look exactly like a rich mass of bark; but, whatever the material, the tint given must show the same faultless taste that rules in the tints of silks for robes and girdles. . . . As yet, all this interior world of beauty -just because it is an interior world-is closed to the foreign tourist: he can find at most only suggestions of it in the rooms of such old-fashioned inns or tea-houses as he may visit in the course of his travels.
I wonder how many foreign travelers understand the charm of a Japanese inn, or even think how much is done to please them, not merely in the matter of personal attentions, but in making beauty for their eyes. Multitudes write of their petty—vexations,—their
personal acquaintance with fleas, their personal dislikes and discomforts; but how many write of the charm of that alcove where every day fresh flowers are placed,—arranged as no European florist could ever learn to arrange flowers,—and where there is sure to be some object of real art, whether in bronze, lacquer, or porcelain, together with a picture suited to the feeling of the time and season? These little æsthetic gratifications, though never charged for, ought to be kindly remembered when the gift of "tea-money" is made. I have been in hundreds of Japanese hotels, and I remember only one in which I could find nothing curious or pretty,—a ramshackle shelter hastily put up to catch custom at a newly-opened railway station.
A word about the alcove of my room in Ôsaka:—The wall was covered only with a mixture of sand and metallic filings of some sort, but it looked like a beautiful surface of silver ore. To the pillar was fastened a bamboo cup containing a pair of exquisite blossoming sprays of wistaria,—one pink and the other white. The kakemono—made with a few very bold strokes by a master-
brush-pictured two enormous crabs about to fight after vainly trying to get out of each other's way;—and the humor of the thing was enhanced by a few Chinese characters signifying, Wôko-sekai, or, "Everything goes crookedly in this world."
My last day in Ôsaka was given to shopping,—chiefly in the districts of the toy-makers and of the silk merchants. A Japanese acquaintance, himself a shopkeeper, took me about, and showed me extraordinary things until my eyes ached. We went to a famous silk-house,—a tumultuous place, so crowded that we had some trouble to squeeze our way to the floor-platform, which, in every Japanese shop, serves at once for chairs and counter. Scores of barefooted light-limbed boys were running over it, bearing bundles of merchandise to customers;—for in such shops there is no shelving of stock. The Japanese salesman never leaves his squatting-place on the mats; but, on learning what you want, he shouts an order, and boys presently run to you with armfuls of samples. After you have
made your choice, the goods are rolled up again by the boys, and carried back into the fire-proof storehouses behind the shop. At the time of our visit, the greater part of the matted floor-space was one splendid shimmering confusion of tossed silks and velvets of a hundred colors and a hundred prices. Near the main entrance an elderly superintendent, plump and jovial of aspect like the God of Wealth, looked after arriving customers. Two keen-eyed men, standing upon an elevation in the middle of the shop, and slowly turning round and round in opposite directions, kept watch for thieves; and other watchers were posted at the side-doors. (Japanese shop-thieves, by the way, are very clever; and I am told that nearly every large store loses considerably by them in the course of the year.) In a side-wing of the building, under a low skylight, I saw busy ranks of bookkeepers, cashiers, and correspondents squatting before little desks less than two feet high. Each of the numerous salesmen was attending to many customers at once. The rush of business was big; and the rapidity with which the work was being done testified
to the excellence of the organization established. I asked how many persons the firm employed, and my friend replied:—
"Probably about two hundred here; there are several branch houses. In this shop the work is very hard; but the working-hours are shorter than in most of the silk-houses,—not more than twelve hours a day."
"What about salaries?" I inquired.
"Is all the work of this firm done without pay?"
"Perhaps one or two of the very cleverest salesmen may get something,—not exactly a salary, but a little special remuneration every month; and the old superintendent—(he has been forty years in the house)—gets a salary. The rest get nothing but their food."
"No, very cheap, coarse food. After a man has served his time here,—fourteen or fifteen years,—he may be helped to open a small store of his own."
"Are the conditions the same in all the shops of Ôsaka?"
"Yes,—everywhere the same. But now
many of the detchi are graduates of commercial schools. Those sent to a commercial school begin their apprenticeship much later; and they are said not to make such good detchi as those taught from childhood."
"A Japanese clerk in a foreign store is much better off."
"We do not think so," answered my friend very positively. "Some who speak English well, and have learned the foreign way of doing business, may get fifty or sixty dollars a month for seven or eight hours' work a day. But they are not treated the same way as they are treated in a Japanese house. Clever men do not like to work under foreigners. Foreigners used to be very cruel to their Japanese clerks and servants."
"But not now?" I queried.
"Perhaps not often. They have found that it is dangerous. But they used to beat and kick them. Japanese think it shameful to even speak unkindly to detchi or servants. In a house like this there is no unkindness. The owners and the superintendents never speak roughly. You see how very hard all these men and boys are working without pay.
No foreigner could get Japanese to work. like that, even for big wages. I have worked in foreign houses, and I know."
It is not exaggeration to say that most of the intelligent service rendered in Japanese trade and skilled industry is unsalaried. Perhaps one third of the business work of the country is done without wages; the relation between master and servant being one of perfect trust on both sides, and absolute obedience being assured by the simplest of moral conditions. This fact was the fact most deeply impressed upon me during my stay in Ôsaka.
I found myself wondering about it while the evening train to Nara was bearing me away from the cheery turmoil of the great metropolis. I continued to think of it while watching the deepening of the dusk over the leagues of roofs,—over the mustering of factory chimneys forever sending up their offering of smoke to the shrine of good Nintoku. Suddenly above the out-twinkling of countless lamps,—above the white star-points of electric lights,—above the growing dusk
itself,—I saw, rising glorified into the last red splendor of sunset, the marvelous old pagoda of Tennôji. And I asked myself whether the faith it symbolized had not helped to create that spirit of patience and love and trust upon which have been founded all the wealth and energy and power of the mightiest city of Japan.