The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Japanese Spirit, by Okakura-Yoshisaburo. (2024)

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Japanese Spirit, by Yoshisaburo OkakuraThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: The Japanese SpiritAuthor: Yoshisaburo OkakuraRelease Date: November 16, 2010 [EBook #34341]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE JAPANESE SPIRIT ***Produced by Marc D'Hooghe at











Bellario Sir, if I have made
A fault in ignorance, instruct my youth:
I shall be willing, if not able, to learn:
Age and experience will adorn my mind
With larger knowledge; and if I have done
A wilful fault, think me not past all hope
For once.

Philaster, Act. II. Sc. I.


The following pages owe their existence to Mr. Martin White, whose keeninterest in comparative sociology led to the opening of special coursesfor its investigation in the University of London.

My thanks are due to Mr. P.J. Hartog, Academic Registrar of theUniversity, as well as to Dr. and Mrs. E.R. Edwards, who inspired mewith the courage to take the present task on my inexperienced shoulders.But above all I render the expression of my deepest obligation toProfessor Walter Rippmann. Had it not been for his friendly interest andhelp, I would not have been able thus to come before an English public.For the peculiarities of thought and language, which, if nothing else,might at least make the booklet worthy of a perusal, I naturally assumethe full responsibility myself.

With these prefatory words, I venture to submit this essay to thelenient reception of my readers.


We have had illuminating books upon Japan. Those of Lafcadio Hearn willalways be remembered for the poetry he brought in them to bear upon thepoetic aspects of the country and the people. Buddhism had a fascinationfor him, as it had for Mr. Fielding in his remarkable book on thepractice of this religion in Burma.[1] There is also the work of CaptainBrinkley, to which we are largely indebted.

These Lectures by a son of the land, delivered at the University ofLondon, are compendious and explicit in a degree that enables us to forma summary of much that has been otherwise partially obscure, so that weget nearer to the secret of this singular race than we have had thechance of doing before. He traces the course of Confucianism, Laoism,Shintoism, in the instruction it has given to his countrymen for thepractice of virtue, as to which Lao-tze informs us with a piece of'Chinese metaphysics' that can be had without having recourse to thedictionary: 'Superior virtue is non-virtue. Therefore it has virtue.Inferior virtue never loses sight of virtue. Therefore it has no virtue.Superior virtue is non-assertive and without pretension. Inferior virtueasserts and makes pretensions.' It is childishly subtle and easy to beunderstood of a young people in whose minds Buddhism and Shintoismformed a part.

The Japanese have had the advantage of possessing a native Nobility whowere true nobles, not invaders and subjugators. They were, in thehighest sense, men of honor to whom, before the time of this dreadfulwar, Hara-kiri was an imperative resource, under the smallest suspicionof disgrace. How rigidly they understood and practised Virtue, in thesense above cited, is exemplified in the way they renounced theirprivileges for the sake of the commonweal when the gates of Japan werethrown open to the West.

Bushido, or the 'way of the Samurai,' has become almost an English word,so greatly has it impressed us with the principle of renunciation onbehalf of the Country's welfare. This splendid conception of duty hasbeen displayed again and again at Port Arthur and on the fields ofManchuria, not only by the Samurai, but by a glorious commonalty imbuedwith the spirit of their chiefs.

All this is shown clearly by Professor Okakura in this valuable book.

It proves to general comprehension that such a people must beunconquerable even if temporarily defeated; and that is not the presentprospect of things. Who could conquer a race of forty millions havingthe contempt of death when their country's inviolability is at stake!Death, moreover, is despised by them because they do not believe in it.'The departed, although invisible, are thought to be leading theirethereal life in the same world in much the same state as that to whichthey had been accustomed while on earth.' And so, 'when the father of aJapanese family begins a journey of any length, the raised part of hisroom will be made sacred to his memory during his temporary absence; hisfamily will gather in front of it and think of him, expressing theirdevotion and love in words and gifts in kind. In the hundreds ofthousands of families that have some one or other of their membersfighting for the nation in this dreadful war, there will not be even onesolitary house where the mother, wife, or sister is not practising thissimple rite of endearment for the beloved and absent member of thefamily.' Spartans in the fight, Stoics in their grief.

Concerning the foolish talk of the Yellow Peril, a studious perusal ofthis book will show it to be fatuous. It is at least unlikely in anextreme degree that such a people, reckless of life though they be infront of danger, but Epicurean in their wholesome love of pleasure andpursuit of beauty, will be inflated to insanity by the success of theirarms. Those writers who have seen something malignant and inimicalbehind their gracious politeness, have been mere visitors on the fringeof the land, alarmed by their skill in manufacturing weapons andexplosives—for they are inventive as well as imitative, a people not tobe trifled with; but this was because their instinct as well as theiremissaries warned them of a pressing need for the means of war. Japanand China have had experience of Western nations, and that is at theconscience of suspicious minds.

It may be foreseen that when the end has come, the Kaiser, alwayshonourably eager for the influence of his people, will draw a glove overthe historic 'Mailed Fist' and offer it to them frankly. It will surelybe accepted, and that of France, we may hope; Russia as well. England isher ally—to remain so, we trust; America is her friend. She has, infact, won the admiration of Friend and Foe alike.



Since the end of the thirteenth century, when Marco Polo, on his returnto Venice, wrote about 'Cipango,' an island, as he stated, '1500 milesoff the coast of China, fabulously rich, and inhabited by people ofa*greeable manners,' many a Western pen has been wielded to tell allkinds of tales concerning the Land of the Rising Sun. Her longseclusion; her anxious care to guard inviolate the simple faith whichhad been gravely threatened by the Roman Church; her hearty welcome ofthe honoured guests from the West, after centuries of independentgrowth; the sudden, almost pathetic, changes she has gone through in thepast forty years in order to equip herself for a place on the world'sstage where powers play their game of balance; the lessons she latelytaught the still slumbering China through the mouths of thunderingcannon: all this has called into existence the expression of opinionsand comments of very varying merit and tone; and especially since theout-break of the present war, when the daily news from the scenes ofaction, where my brethren are fighting for the cause of wronged justiceand menaced liberty, is showing the world page after page of patriotismand loyalty, written unmistakably in the crimson letters of heroes'blood,—all this has given occasion to Europe and America to think thematter over afresh. Here you have at least a nation different in herdevelopment from any existing people in the Occident. Governed from timeimmemorial by the immediate descendants of the Sun-Goddess, whosemerciful rule early taught us to offer them our voluntary tribute ofdevotion and love, we have based our social system on filial piety, thatnecessary outcome of ancestor-worship which presupposes altruism on theone hand, and on the other loyalty and love of the fatherland. Differentdoctrines of religion and morality have found their way from theircontinental homes to the silvery shores of the Land of the Gods, only torender their several services towards consolidating and widening theso-called 'Divine Path,' that national cult whose unwritten tenets havelurked for thousands of years hidden in the most sacred corner of ourhearts, whose pulse is ever beating its rhythm of patriotism andloyalty. Buddhist metaphysics, Confucian and Taoist philosophy, havebeen fused together in the furnace of Shintoism for fifteen centuriesand a half, and that apart from the outer world, in the island home ofJapan, where the blue sky looks down on gay blossoms and gracefullysloping mountains. The final amalgamation of these forces produces,among other results, the works of art and the feats of bravery nowbefore you, each bearing the ineffaceable hall-marks of Japan's pasthistory. Surely here you are face to face with a people worthy ofserious investigation, not only from the disinterested point of view ofa folk-psychologist. It is a study which will open to any impartialobserver a new horizon, more so than would be the case if he attemptedthe sociological interpretation of a nation the history of whosedevelopment was almost identical with that of his own. Here he meetstotally different sets of things with totally different ways of lookingat them; and this gives him ample occasion to realise the fact thathuman thought and action may evolve in several forms and through severalchannels before they reach their respective culmination where they all,regardless of their original differences, melt into the common sea oftruth.

But this simple fact that 'God fulfills Himself in many ways,' as yourTennyson has it, so necessary to ensure freedom from national bigotryand conventional ignorance, so necessary too for a proper understandingof oneself as the cumulative product of a nation's history, has notalways been kept in mind, even by those otherwise well-meaning authors,whose works have some charm as descriptive writing, but give only asuperficial and often misleading account of the inner life of thenation. True, a great deal of excellent work has been achieved by anumber of scholars of lasting merit, from Kaempfe's memorable work firstpublished in its English translation as early as 1727, down to theadmirable Interpretation written last year by the late Mr. LafcadioHearn, in whose death Japan lost one of her most precious friends,possessing as he did the scholar's insight and the poet's pen, twoheavenly gifts seldom found united in a single man. It is mainly throughthe remarkable labour of two learned bodies, the Asiatic Society ofJapan, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Natur- und VölkerkundeOstasiens, both with their headquarters in Tôkyô—in whoseindefatigable researches the 'Japan Society' in this city has ablyjoined since 1892—that most valuable data have been constantly broughtto light, furnishing for future students sure bases for widergeneralizations. But owing to the numerous hindrances—some of whichlook almost insurmountable to the Western investigator—a fair syntheticinterpretation of Japan as a nation, explaining all the important forcesthat underlie the psychic and physical phenomena, still remains to bewritten. The most formidable of the difficulties which meet a Europeanor American student at the very threshold of his researches is thetotally different construction of Japanese society, a difficulty whichmakes it impossible to understand properly any set of the phenomenabelonging to it apart from the others which surround them. One could aswell cut a single mesh from a net without prejudice to the neighbouringones! The proper understanding of things Japanese therefore presupposesfreedom from your conventional philosophy of life, and the power ofviewing things through other people's eyes.

Besides this obstacle, there are many others; for example, that of thelanguage. Like most other nations in the East, we have been accustomed,up to this very day, to use a written language, divided within itselfinto several styles, which is considerably different from thevernacular. To make this state of things still more complicated, Chinesecharacters are profusely resorted to in the native writings, and areused not only as so many ideographs for words of Chinese origin, butalso to represent native words. To make confusion worse confounded, theyare not infrequently used as pure phonetic symbols without any furthermeaning attaching to them. So one and the same sign may be read in halfa dozen different ways, according to the hints, more or less sure, givenby the context. All this makes the study of Japanese immenselydifficult. It is difficult even for a Japanese with the bestopportunities; a hundred times more so, then, for a Western scholar who,if he cares to study the subject at first hand at all, begins thisstudy, comparatively speaking, late in life, when his memory haswell-nigh lost the capacity of bearing such an enormous burden!

Still, there have been many Western scholars who, nothing daunted by theabove-mentioned hindrances, have done much valuable work. English nameslike those of Sir E. Satow, G.W. Aston, B.H. Chamberlain, Lafcadio Hearnare to be gratefully remembered by all future students in this field ofinquiry, as well as such German scholars as Dr. Baelz and Dr. Florenz.Leaving the enumeration of general works on Japan, whose name is legion,for some other time, let me mention one or two of those works ofreference which a would-be English scholar of Japanese matters mightfind very useful. First of all Mr. B.H. Chamberlain's ThingsJapanese—a book which gave birth to Mr. J.D. Hall's equallyindispensable Things Chinese—containing in cyclopædic form a mine ofinformation about Japan. Dr. Wenckstern's painstaking JapaneseBibliography, with M. de Losny's earlier attempt as a supplement, givesyou the list of all writings on Japan in European tongues that haveappeared up to 1895. For those who want good books on the Japaneselanguage, Mr. Aston's Grammar of the Japanese Written Language, Mr.Chamberlain's Handbook of Colloquial Japanese, as well as the sameauthor's Monzi-no-Shirubi, a Practical Introduction to the Study of theJapanese Writing, are the best. As for books on the subject from thepen of the Japanese themselves, Dr. Nitobe's Bushido, Explanations ofthe Japanese Thought, and my brother K. Okakura's Ideals of the East,besides a volume by several well-known Japanese, entitled Japan by theJapanese, are to be specially mentioned.[2]

What I myself propose to do in this essay is to give to the best of myability, and so far as is possible with the scanty knowledge and thelimited space at my disposal, a simple statement in plain language ofwhat I think to be the fundamental truths necessary for the properunderstanding of my fatherland. I am not vain enough to attempt anyoriginal solution of the old difficulty; knowing as I do my owndeficiencies, I should be well satisfied if I could manage to give yousome kind of general introduction to the Japanese views of life.

So much for the preliminary remarks. Let us now take a step further andsee what factors are to be considered as the bases of modern Japan.

'To which race do the Japanese belong?' is the first question asked byany one who wants to approach our subject from the historical point ofview. Unfortunately not much is known as yet about our place in racialscience. If we do not take into account the inhabitants of the newlyannexed island of Formosa, we have, roughly speaking, two very differentraces in our whole archipelago—the hairy Aino and the ruling Yamatorace, the former being the supposed aborigines, physically sturdy andwell developed, with their characteristic abundant growth of hair, whoare at present to be found only in the Yezo island in the northernextremity of Japan, and whose number, notwithstanding all the care ofour government, is fast dwindling, the sum total being not much morethan 15,000. The Aino have a tradition that the land had been occupiedbefore them by another race of dwarfish stature called Koropokguru, whoare identified by some scholars with those primitive pit-dwellers knownin our history as Tuchigumo,[3] whose traces, although scanty, are stillto be met with in various parts of Yezo. Anyhow, we see at the firstdawn of history the aborigines gradually receding before the conqueringYamato race, who are found steadily pushing on towards the northeast,and who finally established themselves as a ruling body under the divinebanner of the first emperor Jimmu, from whose accession we reckon ourera, the present year being the 2565th, according to our recognised wayof counting dates.

Suggestions, audacious rather than strictly scientific, have been putforward as to the original home both of the Aino and the Japanese. TheRev. I. Dooman, for instance, proposed in his paper read before themeeting of the Asiatic Society of Japan in 1897 to derive both from thepeople who had been living, according to him, on both sides of the greatHimalayan range. 'The Aino,' he says, 'the first inhabitants of these(Japanese) islands, belong to the South Himalayan Centre; while theJapanese, the second comers, belong to the North Himalayan, commonlycalled Altaic races.'[4] But in face of the scanty knowledge at ourcommand about the respective sets of people in question, such wholesaleconjecture had better be postponed until some later time, when furtherresearch shall have supplied surer data for our speculations. As regardsthe Aino, we must for the present say, on the authority of Mr.Chamberlain, that, remembering how the Aino race is isolated from allother living races by its hairiness and by the extraordinary flatteningof the tibia and humerus, it is not strange to find the languageisolated too.[5]

With respect to the Japanese proper, the only thing known about theirracial affinity is the theory proposed by the German scholar Dr. Baelz,as the result of his elaborate measurements both of living specimens andskeletons.[6] He considers the Yamato race to belong to the Mongolianstock of the Asiatic continent, from where they proceeded to Japan byway of the Corean peninsula. There are two distinct types noticeableamong them at present, one characterised by a delicate, refinedappearance, with oval face, rather oblique eyes, slightly Roman nose,and a frame not vigorous yet well proportioned; the other marked out bybroader face, projecting cheek bones, flat nose, and horizontal eyes,while the body is more robust and muscular, though not so wellproportioned and regular. The former is to be met with among the betterclasses and in the southern parts of Japan, while the specimens of thelatter are found rather among the labouring population, and are moreabundant in the northern provinces. This difference of types,aristocratic and plebeian, which is still more conspicuous among thefair sex, is with good reason attributed to the two-fold wave ofMongolian emigration which reached our island in prehistoric times. Thefirst emigrants, consisting of coarser tribes of the Mongolian race,landed most probably on the northern coast of the main island somewherein the present Idzumo province, and settled down there, while the secondwave broke on the shores of Kyûshû. These emigrants seem to havebelonged to the more refined branch of the great Mongolian stock. Thishypothesis is borne out by our mythology, which divides itself into twocycles, one centring at Idzumo and the other at Kyûshû, and which tellus how the great-grandfather of the first great emperor Jimmu descendedfrom heaven on to the peak of the mountain Takachiho in Hyûga in Kyûshû.Accompanied by his brother, he started from this spot on his march ofconquering migration to Yamato, fighting and subduing on his way tribeswho on the continent were once his kith and kin.

It might perhaps interest you to know something of our prevailing ideaof personal beauty, especially as, in such a hom*ogeneous nation as theJapanese, ruled from time immemorial by one and the same line ofdynasty, it may help us to make some vague conjectures as to thephysical appearances of at least one of those continental tribes out ofwhich our nation has been formed. The standard of beauty naturallyfluctuates a little according to sex and locality. In a lady, forexample, mildness and grace are, generally speaking, preferred to thatstrength or manliness of expression which would be thought more becomingin her brother. Tôkyô again does not put so much stress on thefleshiness of limbs and face as does Kyôto. But, as a whole, there isonly one ideal throughout the Empire. So let me try to enumerate all thequalities usually considered necessary to make a beautiful woman. She isto possess a body not much exceeding five feet in height, withcomparatively fair skin and proportionately well-developed limbs; a headcovered with long, thick, and jet-black hair; an oval face with astraight nose, high and narrow; rather large eyes, with large deep-brownpupils and thick eyelashes; a small mouth, hiding behind its red, butnot thin, lips, even rows of small white teeth; ears not altogethersmall; and long and thick eyebrows forming two horizontal but slightlycurved lines, with a space left between them and the eyes. Of the fourways in which hair can grow round the upper edge of the forehead, viz.,horned, square, round, and Fuji-shaped, one of the last two ispreferred, a very high as well as a very low forehead being considerednot attractive.

Such are, roughly speaking, the elements of Japanese female beauty. Eyesand eyebrows with the outer ends turning considerably upwards, withwhich your artists depict us, are due to those Japanese colour printswhich strongly accentuate our dislike of the reverse, for straight eyesand eyebrows make a very bad impression on us, suggesting weakness,lasciviousness, and so on. It must also be understood that in Japan nosuch variety of types of beauty is to be met with as is noticed here inEurope. Blue eyes and blond hair, the charms of which we first learn tofeel after a protracted stay among you, are regarded in a Japanese assomething extraordinary in no favourable sense of the term! A girl witheven a slight tendency to grey eyes or frizzly hair is looked upon as anunwelcome deviation from the national type.

If we now consider our mythology, with a view to tracing the continentalhome of the Yamato race, we find, to our disappointment, that ourpresent knowledge is too scanty to allow us to arrive at a conclusion.Indeed, so long as the general science of mythology itself remains inthat unsettled condition in which its youth obliges it to linger, andespecially so long as the Indian and Chinese bodies of myths—by whichour mythology is so unmistakably influenced—do not receive more serioussystematic treatment, the recorded stories of the Japanese deitiescannot be expected to supply us with much indication as to ourcontinental home. One thing is certain about them, that they were notfree from influences exerted by the different myths prevalent among theChinese and the Indians at the time when they were written down in ourearliest history, the Ko-ji-ki or Records of Ancient Matter,completed in A.D. 712. There is an excellent English translation of thebook, with an admirable introduction and notes, by Mr. B.H. Chamberlain.According to this book, the original ethereal chaos with which the worldbegan gradually congealed, and was finally divided into heaven andearth. The male and female principles now at work gave birth to severaldeities, until a pair of deities named Izanagi and Izanami, or the'Male-who-invites' and the 'Female-who-invites,' were produced. Theymarried, and produced first of all the islands of Japan big and small,and then different deities, until the birth of the Fire-God cost thedivine mother her life. She subsequently retired to the Land of Darknessor Hades, where her sorrowful consort descended, Orpheus-like, in questof his spouse. He failed to bring her back to the outer world, for, likethe Greek musician, he broke his promise not to look at her in her moreprofound retirement. The result was disastrous. Izanagi barely escapedfrom his now furious wife, and on coming back to daylight he washedhimself in a stream, in order to purify himself from the hideous sightsand the pollution of the nether-world. This custom of lustration is, bythe way, kept up to this day in the symbolic sprinkling of salt overpersons returning from a funeral—salt representing pure water, as ourname for it, 'the flower of the waves,' well indicates. Our love ofcleanliness and of bathing might be also recognised in this earlycustom. Impurity, whether mental or corporal, has always been regardedas a great evil, and even as a sin.

Now one of the most important results of the purification of the godIzanagi was the birth of three important deities through the washing ofhis eyes and nose. The Moon-God and the Sun-Goddess emerged from hiswashing his right and left eyes, while Susanowo, their youngest brother,owed his existence to the washing of his nose; three illustriouschildren to whom the divine father trusted the dominion of night, day,and the seas.

The last-mentioned deity, whose name would mean in English 'PrinceImpetuous,' lost his father's favour by his obstinate longing to seeIzanami, the divine mother, in Hades, and was expelled from the father'spresence. He eventually went up to heaven to pay a visit to his sister,the Sun-Goddess, whom he gravely offended by his monstrous outrages onher person, and who was consequently so angry that she shut herself upin a rocky chamber, thus causing darkness in the world outside. Inaccordance with the deliberate plans worked out by an assembly of amyriad gods, she was at last allured from her cavern by the sounds ofwild merriment caused by the burlesque dancing of a female deity, andday reigned once more.

The now repenting offender was driven down from heaven, and he wanderedabout the earth. It was during this wandering that in Idzumo he, likePerseus, rescued a beautiful young maid from an eight-headed serpent. Hewon her hand and lived very happily with her ever after.

In the meantime the state of things in the 'High Plain of Heaven'ripened to the point that the Sun-Goddess began to think of sending heraugust child to govern the'Luxuriant-Reed-Plain-Land-of-Fresh-Rice-Ears,' that is to say, Japan.Messages were previously sent to pacify the land for the reception ofthe divine ruler. This took much time, during which a grandson was bornto the Sun-Goddess, and in the end it was this grandson who wasdesignated to come down to earth instead of his father. On his departurea formal command to descend and rule the land now placed under his carewas accompanied by the present of a mirror, a sword, and a string ofcrescent-shaped jewels. These treasures, still preserved in our imperialhousehold as regalia, are generally interpreted to mean the threevirtues of wisdom, courage, and mercy—necessary qualities for a perfectruler. It was on the high peak of Mount Takachiho that the divine rulerdescended to earth. He settled down in the country until hisgreat-grandson, known in history as Emperor Jimmu, founded the empireand began that unique line of rulers who have governed the 'Land of theGods' for more than two thousand years, the present emperor being thehundred and twenty-first link in the eternal chain.

Such is, in brief, the story about my country before it was broughtunder the rule of one central governing body. Subjected to scientificscrutiny the whole tale presents many gaps in logical sequence. Itbetrays, besides, traces of an intermingling of the early beliefs ofother nations. Still, it must be said that the divine origin of ouremperors has invested their throne with the double halo of temporal andof spiritual power from the earliest days of their ascendancy; and thepeople, themselves the descendants of those patriarchs who served underthe banners of Emperor Jimmu, or else of those who early learned to bowthemselves down before the divine conqueror, have looked up to thisthrone with an ever-growing reverence and pride.

In primitive Japan, as in every other primitive human society,ancestor-worship was the first form of belief. Each family had its owndeparted spirits of forefathers to whom was dedicated a daily homage ofsimple words and offerings in kind. The guardian ghosts demanded oftheir living descendants that they should be good and brave in their ownway. As these families of the same race and language gathered themselvesaround the strongest of them all, imbued with a firm belief in itsdivine origin, they contributed in their turn their own myths to theimperial ones, thus eventually forming and consolidating a nationalcult; and it was but natural that the people's heart should come incourse of time to re-echo in harmony with the keynote struck by the onethrough whom the gods breathe eternal life. The whole nation is bound bythat sacred tie of common belief and common thought. Here lies the greatgap that separates, for example, the Chinese cult of fatalism from ourPath of Gods as a moral force. The Chinese have believed from theearliest times in one supreme god whom they called the Divine Presider(Shang-ti) or the August Heaven (Hwang-t'ien or simply T'ien),who, according to their notion, carefully selects a fit person fromamong swarming mankind to be the temporary ruler of hisfellow-countrymen, but only for so long as it pleases the god to let himoccupy the throne. At the expiration of a certain period, the heavenlymission (T'ien-ming) is transferred through bloodshed and nationaldisaster to another mortal, who exercises the earthly rule until he orhis descendants incur the disfavour of the 'Heaven above.' To this daythe Chinese word for revolution means the 'renovation of missions'(kweh-ming). This fatalistic idea, which is but a natural outcome ofthe almost too democratic nature of the people of the Celestial Empireand of the frequent changes of dynasties it has had to go through, isalmost unknown in our island home in its gravest aspects; more thanthat, ever since its introduction into Japan, this idea, along with theIndian doctrine of pitiless fate, has gradually taught us to offer amore resigned and determined service to our respective superiors whoculminate in the divine person of the Emperor himself. This is wellillustrated by the fact that no attempt at the formal occupation of thethrone has ever been made, even on the part of those powerful Shogunswho were the real rulers of our country; they knew full well howdangerous and fatal for themselves it would be to tamper with that hingeon which the nation's religious life turns. Only once in our longhistory is there an example of an unsuccessful attempt (and it is thehighest treason a Japanese subject can think of), when a Buddhist monknamed Dôkyô, encouraged by the undue devotion of the ruling empress,tried to ascend the throne by means of the recognition of the highertemporal rank of the Buddhist priesthood over the imperial ministry ofthe native cult. This imminent danger was averted by the bold andresolute patriotism of a Shinto priest, Wake-no-Kiyomaro, who, inLuther-like defiance of all peril and personal risks, declaredfearlessly, in the very presence of the haughty and menacing head of theBuddhist Church, the divine will, 'Japan is to know no emperor except inthe person of the divine descendants of the Sun-Goddess!'

Turning now to the question of language, we must confess that thelinguistic affinities of Japanese are as little cleared up as the otherproblems we have been considering. The only thing we know about theJapanese language amounts to this: it belongs, morphologically speaking,to the so-called agglutinative languages, e.g., those which expresstheir grammatical functions by the addition of etymologicallyindependent elements—prefixes and suffixes—to the unchangeable rootsor base forms. Genealogically, to follow the classification expounded byFriedrich Müller in his Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft, who basedhis system on Haeckel's division of the human race by the nature andparticularly the section of the hair, Japanese is one of the languagesor groups of languages spoken by the Mongolian race.

But this characterisation of our tongue does not help us much. One couldas well point to the East at large to show where Japan lies!Notwithstanding the general uncertainty as regards the exact position ofour language, this much is sure, that Japanese has, in spite of theimmense number of loan-words of Chinese origin, no fundamentalconnection with the monosyllabic language of China, whose differentsyntactical nature and want of common roots baffles the attempts on thepart of some speculative Europeans to connect it with our own tongue. Atthe same time, it is well known among competent scholars that Japanese,with its most distant dialect Luchuan, bears great kinship to theCorean, Manchurian, and Mongolian languages. It shares with them,besides the dislike of commencing a word with a trilled sound or with asonant, almost the same rules for the arrangement of the componentelements of a sentence. According to the Japanese syntax, the followingrules can, for instance, be applied to Corean without alteration:—

1. All the qualifying words and phrases are put before those theyqualify. Attributive adjectives and adverbs, and their equivalents, areplaced before nouns and verbs they modify.

2. The grammatical subject stands at the beginning of the sentence.

3. Predicative elements are at the end of a sentence.

4. Direct and indirect objects follow the subject.

5. Subordinate sentences precede the principal ones.

One thing worthy of notice is the fact that, notwithstanding the mostconvincing structural similarity that exists between these affiliatedlanguages, they contain, comparatively speaking, few words in common,even among the numerals and personal pronouns, which have played such animportant part in Indo-European philology. We must still wait a longtime before a better knowledge of linguistic affinity reveals suchdecisive links of connection as will enable us to trace our Japanesehome on the continent.

Let us now consider what were the effects of the continentalcivilisation on the mental development of the Japanese within theirinsular home.

Before entering into details about the various continental doctrinesimplanted in our country from China and India, it may be well to tellyou something of the mental attitude of the Japanese in facing a newform of culture, in many senses far superior to their own. Nothingdefinite can perhaps be said about it; but when we grope along the maincord of historical phenomena we think we find that the Japanese as awhole are not a people with much aptitude for deep metaphysical ways ofthinking. They are not of the calibre from which you expect a Kant or aSchopenhauer. Warlike by nature more than anything else, they have beenknown from the very beginning to have had the soldier-like simplicityand the easy contentment of men of action—qualities which the practicalnature of Confucian ethics had ample chance to develop. The abstruseconceptions of Chinese or Indian origin have been received into theJapanese mind just as they were preached, and usually we have nottroubled ourselves to think them out again; but in accordance with ourpeculiarly quick habit of perceiving the inner meaning of things, wehave generalised them straight away and turned them immediately into somany working principles. There are any number of instances of slighthints given by some people on the continent and worked out to suit ourown purposes into maxims of immediate and practical value. Ideals intheir original home are ideals no longer in our island home. They areinterpreted into so many realities with a direct bearing on our dailylife. We have been and are, even to this day, always in need of some newhints and suggestions to work up into so many dynamic forces forpractical use. Upon Europe and America the full power of our mentalsearchlight is now playing, in quest of those new ideas for futuredevelopment for which we have been accustomed to draw mainly on Chinaand India. Even such a commonplace thing as the drinking of a cup of teabecomes in our hands something more: it becomes a training in stoicserenity, in the capacity of smiling at life's troubles anddisturbances. Some day you might learn from us a new philosophy based onthe use of motor cars and telephones as applied to life and conduct!

This, as you will see, explains why we have failed to produce anyoriginal thinkers; this is why we have to recognise our indebtedness 
for almost all the important ideas which have brought about socialinnovation either to China or to India, or else to the modern Westernnations; and this notwithstanding so many national idiosyncrasies andcharacteristics which are to be found in the productions of our art andin our life and ways, and which are even as handfuls of grain gatheredin foreign fields and brewed into a national drink of utterly Japaneseflavour. We are, I think, a people of the Present and the Tangible, ofthe broad Daylight and the plainly Visible. The undeniable proclivity ofour mind in favour of determination and action, as contrasted withdeliberation and calm, makes it an uncongenial ground for the sublimityand grandeur of that 'loathed melancholy, of Cerberus and blackestmidnight born,' to take deep root in it. Pure reasoning as such has hadfor us little value beyond the help it affords us in harbouring ourdrifting thought in some nearest port, where we can follow any peacefuloccupation rather than be fighting what we should call a useless fightwith troubled billows and unfathomable depths. Such, according to mypersonal view, are the facts about our mentality considered generally.And now it is necessary to speak of the main waves of cult and culturethat successively washed our shores.

The first mention in our history of the introduction of the Chineselearning into the imperial household places it in the reign of thefifteenth emperor Ô-jin, in the year 284 after Christ according to theearliest native records, but according to more trustworthy recentcomputation[7] considerably later than that date. We are told that acertain prince was put under the tutorship of a learned Corean scholarof Chinese, who, at the request of the emperor, came over to Japan withthe Confucian Analects (Iun-yü) and some other Chinese classics as atribute from the King of Kudara. But long before the learning of theCelestial Empire found its way through Corea into our imperial court, ithad in all probability been making its silent influence felt here andthere among the Japanese people. Great swarms of immigrants had sought afinal place of rest in our sea-girt country from many parts of China,where raging tyranny and menacing despotism made life intolerable evenfor Chinese meekness; these, and the bands of daring invaders whichJapan sent out from time to time to the Corean and Chinese coasts, hadgiven us many opportunities of coming into contact with the learningprevalent among our continental neighbours. In this manner Chineseliterature, with its groundwork of Confucian ethics, surrounded by thestrange lore derived from Taoism, and perhaps also from Hindu sources,had been gradually but surely attracting the ever-increasing attentionof our warlike forefathers, who were to become in course of time itsdevoted admirers.

Now, Confucianism pure and simple, as taught by the sage Kung-foo-tsze(551-478 B.C.), from whom the doctrine derived its name, was,notwithstanding the contention of the famous English sinologue Dr.Legge, nothing more and nothing less than an aggregate of ethical ideasconsidered in their application to the conduct and duties of oureveryday life. 'The great teacher never allowed himself to be consideredan expounder of any new system of either religious or metaphysicalideas. He was content to call himself 'a transmitter and not a maker,believing in and loving the ancients.' True to the spirit of thesewords, and most probably having no other course open to him on accountof his extremely utilitarian turn of mind, he devoted his whole life tothe elucidation of the True Path of human life, as exemplified by thosehalf-mythical rulers of old China, Yaô, Shun, etc., from whom he derivedhis ideals and his images of perfect man in flesh and blood. These earlykings were of course no creation of Confucius himself; the only thing hedid was to place the forms, which popular tradition had handed downsurrounded by legendary halos, in high relief before the people, asperfect models to regulate the earthly conduct of the individuals asmembers of a society. His attitude towards the ancient classics which hecompiled and perpetuated was that of one transmitting faithfully. Hestudied them, and exhorted and helped his disciples to do the same, buthe did not alter them, nor even digest them into their present form.'[8]In order to find concrete examples to show his ethical views morepositively, he wrote a history of his native state Loò from 722 to 484B.C., in which, while faithfully recording events, he took everyopportunity to jot down his moral judgment upon them in the terse wordsand phrases he knew so well how to wield. As abstract reasoning hadlittle charm for his practical mind, he systematically avoided indulgingin discussions of a metaphysical nature. 'How can we know anything of anAfter-life, when we are so ignorant even of the Living,' was his answerwhen asked by one of his disciples about Death. Ancestor-worship hesanctioned, as might naturally be expected from his enthusiasticadvocacy of things ancient, and also from the importance he attached tofilial piety, which strikes the keynote of his ethical ideas. But heretoo his indifference to the spiritual side of the question is veryremarkable. Perhaps he found the holy altar of his day so muchencumbered by the presence of innumerable fetishes and demons, that hefelt little inclination to approach and sweep them away. 'To giveoneself,' he said on one occasion, 'to the duties due to men, and whilerespecting spiritual things to keep aloof from them, may be calledwisdom.'

The main features which he advocated are found well reflected in thefirst twelve out of sixteen articles of the so-called sacred Edict,published by the famous K'ang Hsi (1654-1722), the second emperor of thepresent Manchu dynasty, in 1670 A.D., which embody the essential pointsof Confucianism, as adapted to the requirements of modern everydayChinese life.

1. Esteem most highly filial piety and brotherly submission, in order togive due prominence to the social relations.

2. Behave with generosity to the branches of your kindred, in order toillustrate harmony and benignity.

3. Cultivate peace and concord in your neighbourhood, in order toprevent quarrels and litigation.

4. Recognise the importance of husbandry and the culture of themulberry-tree, in order to ensure sufficiency of food and clothing.

5. Show that you prize moderation and economy, in order to prevent thelavish waste of your means.

6. Make much of the colleges and seminaries, in order to make correctthe practice of the scholars.

7. Discountenance and banish strange doctrines, in order to exaltcorrect doctrines.

8. Describe and explain the laws, in order to warn the ignorant andobstinate.

9. Exhibit clearly propriety and gentle courtesy, in order to improvemanners and customs.

10. Labour diligently at your proper callings, in order to givewell-defined aims to the people.

11. Instruct sons and younger brothers, in order to prevent them doingwhat is wrong.

12. Put a stop to false accusations, in order to protect the honest andthe good.

Here too you see what an important place filial piety occupies, whichConfucius himself prized so highly. The Hsiao King, or the 'Sacred Bookof Filial Piety,' which is supposed to record conversations held betweenConfucius and his disciple Tsang Ts'an on that weighty subject, has thefollowing passage: 'He who (properly) serves his parents in a highsituation will be free from haughtiness; in a low situation he will befree from insubordination; whilst among his equals he will not bequarrelsome. In a high position haughtiness leads to ruin; among thelowly insubordination means punishment; among equals quarrelsomenesstends to the wielding of weapons.' These words, naïve as they are,express the exalted position filial affection occupies in the eyes ofConfucianism. 'Dutiful subjects are to be found in the persons of filialsons,' and again, 'Filial piety is the source whence all other goodactions take their rise,' are other sayings expressing its importance.

Along with this virtue, other forms of moral force, such as mercy,uprightness, courage, politeness, fidelity, and loyalty, have been dulyconsidered and commended by the great teacher himself and his disciples.Among these, Mencius (373-289 B.C.) is most enterprising and attractive,digesting and systematising with a great deal of philosophic talent therather fragmentary ideas of his great master. It is he who, among otherthings, informs us, on the assumed authority of a passage in theShu-King, how the sage Shun made it a subject of his anxious solicitudeto teach the five constituent relationships of society, viz., affectionbetween father and son; relations of righteousness between ruler andsubject; the assigning of their proper spheres to husband and wife;distinction of precedence between old and young; and fidelity betweenfriend and friend—an idea which has played such an important part inthe history of the development of the Oriental mind.

Such were the main features of Confucianism when it first reached Japan,some centuries after the Christian era. But it was not until some timeafter the introduction of Buddhism from Corea during the reign of theEmperor Kimmei, in 552 A.D., that Confucianism and Chinese learningbegan to take firm root and make their influence felt among us.Paradoxical as it looks, it is Buddhism that so greatly helped theteaching of the Chinese sage to establish itself as a ruling factor inJapanese society. This curious state of things came about in this way.The gospel of Shâkya-muni has, ever since its introduction into ourcountry, been made accessible only through the Chinese translation,which demanded a considerable knowledge of the written language of theMiddle Kingdom. The keen and far-reaching spiritual interest aroused byBuddhism gave a fresh and vigorous impulse to the study of Chineseliterature, already increasingly cultivated for some centuries. Now, theknowledge of Chinese in its written form has, until quite recently,always been imparted by a painful perusal of the Chinese classics andChinese books deeply imbued with Confucianism. It was only after aconsiderable amount of knowledge of this difficult language had beenobtained in this unnatural way, that one came in contact with the worksof authors not strictly orthodox. This way of teaching Chinese throughConfucian texts, which we adopted from China's faithful agent, Corea,necessarily led from the very beginning to an intimate acquaintance withthe main aspects of the Confucian morals in our upper classes, amongwhom alone the study was at first pursued with any seriousness. Althoughskilled in warlike arts, gentle and loyal in domestic life, ourforefathers were simple in manners and thought in those olden days whenbook-learned reasons of duty had not yet superseded the naïve observanceof the dictates of the heart and of responsibility to the ancestralspirits. They possessed no letters of their own, and consequently noliterature, except in unwritten songs and legendary lore sung from mouthto mouth, telling of the gods and men who formed the glorious past ofthe Yamato race. So it is not difficult to imagine the dazzling effectwhich the Chinese learning, with its richness and its pedantry, with itselaborate system of civil government and its philosophy, produced uponour untrained eyes. Gradually but steadfastly it had been gainingground, and making its slow way from the topmost rung to the bottom ofthe social ladder, when the introduction of Buddhism quickened the nowresistless progress. The would-be priests and advocates of the Indiancreed felt a fresh impulse and spiritual need to learn the Chineselanguage, for which they had long entertained a high estimation. Owingto the extremely secular character of the Confucian ethics on the onehand, and on the other, to the fact that Buddhists deny the existence ofa personal god, and are eager to minister salvation through any adequatemeans so long as it does not contradict the Law of the Universe uponwhich the whole doctrine is based, Buddhism found in the teaching of theChinese sage and his followers not only no enemy, but, on the contrary,a helpful friend. It found that the sacred books of Confucian doctrinecontained only in a slightly different form the five commandments laiddown by Shâkya-muni himself for the regulation of the conduct of alayman, viz.:—

1. Not to destroy life nor to cause its destruction.

2. Not to steal.

3. Not to commit adultery.

4. Not to tell lies.

5. Not to indulge in intoxicating drinks; or the Buddhist warningagainst the ten sins; three of the body—taking life, theft, adultery;four of speech—lying, slander, abuse, and vain conversation; three ofthe mind—covetousness, malice, and scepticism.

It saw also that Confucian writings embraced its fifty precepts[9]detailed under the five different secular relationships of

1. Parents and children.

2. Pupils and teachers.

3. Husbands and wives.

4. Friends and companions.

5. Masters and servants.

Our early Buddhists therefore did not see why they should try tosuppress the existing Confucian moral code and supplant it with theirown which breathed the same spirit, only because it had not grown onIndian soil.

Thus encouraged by the now influential advocates of the teaching ofBuddha, themselves admirers of the Chinese learning, Confucianism beganwith renewed vigour to exercise a great influence on the future of theJapanese. This took place during the seventh century, when thereorganisation of the Japanese government after the model of that of theCelestial Empire made our educational system quite Chinese. In additionto a university, there were many provincial schools where candidates forthe government service were instructed. Medicine, mathematics, includingastronomy and law, taught through Chinese books, along with theall-important teaching in the Confucian ethics and in Chinese literaturegenerally, were the branches of study cultivated under the guidance ofprofessors whose calling had become hereditary among a certain number oflearned families. In the course of the next two centuries we see severalprivate institutions founded by great nobles of the court, with anendowment in land for their support. The native system of writing whichhad gradually emerged out of the phonetic use of Chinese ideographs madeit possible for Japanese thought, hitherto expressed only in anuncongenial foreign garb, to appear in purely Japanese attire. Thus wefind the dawn of Japanese civilisation appearing at the beginning of thetenth century after Christ. The air was replete with the Buddhistthought of after-life and the Confucian ideas of broad-day morality. Thesonorous reading of the Book of Filial Piety was heard all over thecountry, echoing with the loud recital of the Myôhô-renge-kyô (orSaddharma Pundarika Sûtra).

During the dark and dreary Middle Ages which followed this goldenperiod, and which were brought about by the degeneration of the rulingnobles and by the gradually rising power of the military class, Chineselearning fled to the protecting hands of Buddhist priests; and in itsquiet refuge within the monastery walls it continued to breathe itshumble existence, until it found at the beginning of the sixteenthcentury a powerful patron in the great founder of the TokugawaShogunate. The education of the common people, too, seems to have beenkept up by the monks—a fact still preserved in the word tera-koya,'church seminary,' a term used, until forty years ago, to express thetiny private schools for children. It must be remembered that theeducation thus given was always of an exclusively secular character,basing itself on the Confucian morals.

Before passing on to the consideration of Laoism, let me say somethingabout the so-called orthodox form of the teaching of Confucius, which isone of the latest developments of that doctrine. Orthodox Confucianism,as represented by the famous Chinese philosopher and commentator of theConfucian canon, Chu-Hsi (1130-1200), found its admirer in a Japanesescholar, Fujiwara-no-Seigwa (1560-1619), who in his youth had joined thepriesthood, which however he afterwards renounced. He gave lectures onthe Chinese classics at Kyôto. He was held in great esteem by TokugawaIyeyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa line of Shoguns, who embraced theChinese system of ethics as preached by Chu-Hsi. During the two hundredand fifty years of the Tokugawa rule, this system, under the hereditarydirection of the descendants of Hayashi Razan (1583-1657), one of themost distinguished disciples of Seigwa, was recognised as theestablished doctrine.

According to the somewhat hazy ideas of Chu-Hsi's philosophy, which Iask your permission to sketch here on account of the high public esteemin which we have held them for the last three centuries, the ultimatebasis of the universe is Infinity, or Tai Kieh, which, thoughcontaining within itself all the germs of all forms of existence andexcellence, is utterly void of form or sensible qualities. It consistsof two qualities, li and chi, which may be roughly rendered into'force-element' and 'matter-element.' These are self-existences, arepresent in all things, and are found in their formation. The'force-element,' or li, we are told, is the perfection of heavenlyvirtue. It is in inanimate things as well as in man and other animatebeings, and pervades all space. The 'matter-element,' or chi, isendowed with the male and the female principles, or positive andnegative polarities, as we might call them. It is, moreover,characterised by the five constituent qualities of wood, fire,earth, metal, and water. Hence its other name, Wu-hsieng, or'Five Qualities.'

Things and animals, except human beings, get only portions of theforce-element, but man receives it in full, and this becomes in hisperson sing, or real human nature. He has thus within him the perfectmirror of the heavenly virtue and complete power of understanding. Thereis no difference in this respect between a sage and an ordinary man. Toboth the force-element is uniformly given. But the matter-element, fromwhich is derived his form and material existence, and which constitutesthe basis of his mental disposition, is different in quality indifferent men.

Man's real nature, or sing, although originally perfect, becomesaffected on entering into him, or is modified by his mental disposition,which differs according to the different state of the matter-element.Thus a second nature is formed out of the original. It is through thissecond and tainted human nature that man acts well or ill. When a mandoes evil, that is the result of his mental disposition covering orinterfering with his original perfect nature. Wipe this vapour ofcorrupted thought from the surface of your mental mirror and it willshine out as brightly as if it had never been covered by a temporarymist.[10]

Synoptically expressed and applied to the microcosm Chu-Hsi's systemwill be as follows:—

{Force-Element=Original Nature of Man.
Different Human Characters.
{Male-Principle }Wood-quality.
}Fire- "
{Matter-Element }Earth-"
Dispositions latent in Matter.

Such is, in its outline, Chu-Hsi's view, which received the sanction ofthe ruling Tokugawa family. But it was not without its opponents inJapan as well as in China. Already in his own time, Lu-Shang-Shan (b.1140 A.D.) maintained, in opposition to the high-sounding erudition ofChu-Hsi, that the purification of the heart was the first and main pointof study.[11] The same protest was more systematically urged against itby his great follower, Wang Yang-ming (1472-1528 A.D.), who found warmand able admirers in Japan in such scholars as Nakae Tôju (1603-1678),Kumazawa Hanzan (1619-1691), and Oshio Chûsai (1794-1837). Among othergreat opponents of the orthodox philosophy, such names as Itô Jinsai(1625-1706) and his son Tôgai (1670-1736), Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714),Ogyû Sorai (1666-1728), are to be mentioned. These scholars, gettingtheir fundamental ideas from other Chinese thinkers, and eager to remainfaithful to the true spirit of Confucianism itself, pointed out manyinconsistencies in Chu-Hsi's theory, and were of the opinion that morereal good was to be achieved in proceeding straight to action under theguidance of conscience which was heaven and all, than in indulging inidle talk about the subtlety of human nature.

The philosophy of Chu-Hsi, although he calls himself the true exponentof Confucianism, is not at all Confucian. It is greatly indebted toBuddhism and Taoism, or better, Laoism, that is to say, to thephilosophy originated by Lao-tze (b. 604 B.C.), one of the greatestthinkers that China has ever produced. Since Laoism, through thewonderful Tao-teh-king, a small book by Lao-tze himself, butespecially through Chwang-tze, a work in ten books by his famousfollower Chwang-chow, has exercised considerable influence on ourthought for twelve centuries, a word about it may not be out of placebefore we go on to consider the doctrine of Shâkya-muni.

In Lao-tze we find the perfect opposite of Confucius, both in the turnof his mind and in his views and methods of saving the world. Lao-tzeendeavoured to reform humanity by warning them to cast off all humanartifice and to return to nature. This may be taken as the whole tenorof his doctrine: Do not try to do anything with your petty will, becauseit is the way to hinder and spoil the spontaneous growth of the truevirtue that permeates the universe. To follow Nature's dictates, whilehelping it to develop itself, is the very course sanctioned and followedby all the sages worthy of the name. Make away with your 'Ego' and learnto value simplicity and humiliation; for in total 'altruism' exists thecompletion of self, and in humble contentment and yielding pliancy areto be found real grandeur and true strength. Under the title 'DimmingRadiance' he says:[12]

'Heaven endures and earth is lasting. And why can heaven and earthendure and be lasting? Because they do not live for themselves. Onthat account can they endure.

'Therefore the True Man puts his person behind and his person comesto the front. He surrenders his person and his person is preserved.Is it not because he seeks not his own? For that reason heaccomplishes his own.'

Again we hear him 'Discoursing on Virtue':—

'Superior virtue is non-virtue. Therefore it has Virtue. Inferiorvirtue never loses sight of virtue. Therefore it has no virtue.Superior virtue is non-assertive and without pretension. Inferiorvirtue asserts and makes pretensions.'

He talks about 'Returning to Simplicity':

'Quit the so-called saintliness; leave the so-called wisdom alone;and the people's gain will be increased by a hundredfold.

`Abandon the so-called mercy; put away the so-called righteousness;and the people will return to filial devotion and paternal love.

`Abandon your scheming; put away your devices; and thieves androbbers will no longer exist.'

Such is the general purport of the doctrine expounded by Lao-tze. It iswell to remember that this doctrine, which we may call for distinction'ssake Laoism, has intrinsically very little to do with that form ofbelief now so prevalent among the Chinese, and which is known under thename of Taoism. Although this name itself is derived from Lao-tze's ownword Tao, meaning Reason or True Path, and although the followers ofTaoism see in the great philosopher its first revealer, it is in allprobability nothing more than a new aspect and new appellation assumedby that aboriginal Chinese cult which was based on nature- andancestor-worship. Ever since their appearance in history the Chinesehave had their belief in Shang-ti, in spirits, and in natural agencies.This cult found, at an early date, in the mystic interpretation andsolution of life as expressed by Lao-tze and his followers, the means offresh development. The philosophical ideas of these thinkers were notproperly understood, and words and phrases mostly metaphorical wereconstrued in such a manner that they came to mean something quitedifferent from what the original writers wished to suggest. Such anidea, for instance, as the deathlessness of a True Man by virtue of hisincorporation with the grand Truth Tao that pervades Heaven and Earth,breathing in the eternity of the universe, was easily misinterpreted ina very matter-of-fact manner, e.g., anybody who realised Tao couldthen enjoy the much-wished-for freedom from actual death. You see howeasy it is for an ordinary mind to pass from one to the other when ithears Chwang-tze say:—

'Fire cannot burn him who is perfect in virtue, nor water drownhim; neither cold nor heat can affect him injuriously; neither birdnor beast can hurt him.'[13]

Or again:—

'Though heaven and earth were to be overturned and fall, they wouldoccasion him no loss. His judgment is fixed on that in which thereis no element of falsehood, and while other things change, hechanges not.'[14]

We want no great flight of imagination therefore to follow the traces ofdevelopment of the present form of Taoism with its occult aspects. Theeternity attributed to a True Man in its Laoist sense begot the idea ofa deathless man in flesh and blood endowed with all kinds ofsupernatural powers. This in turn produced the notion that thesesuperhuman beings knew some secret means to preserve their life andcould work other wonders. Herbalism, alchemy, geomancy, and other magicarts owe their origin to this fountain-head of primitive superstition.

There is little room for reasonable doubt that in this way Taoism,although the name itself was of later development, has been in its mainfeatures the religion of China par excellence from the very dawn ofits history. It has from the beginning found a congenial soil in theheart of the Chinese people, who still continue to embrace the cult withgreat enthusiasm, and in whose helpless credulity the Taoist priests ofto-day, borrowing much help from the occult sides of Buddhism andHinduism, still find an easy prey for their necromantic arts.

Not so with Laoism. One may well wonder how such an uncongenial doctrineever came to spring from the soil of materialistic China. Some suggestthat Lao-tze was a Brahman, and not a Chinese at all. Anotherexplanation of this anomaly is to be found in the attempted division ofthe whole Chinese civilisation into two geographically distinct groups,the rigid Northern and the more romantic Southern types: Laoismbelonging to the latter, while Confucianism belongs to the former. Inany case, the resemblance in many respects between the doctrineintroduced by Lao-tze and the higher form of Buddhism is very striking.Let me take this opportunity of saying something about the religion ofShâkya-muni, which has occupied our mind and heart for the past fifteencenturies.

But, first of all, let me say that I am not unaware of the absurdity oftrying to give you anything like a fair idea of a many-sided andextremely complicated system of human belief such as Buddhism in theshort space which is at my disposal. Very far from it. Even a briefsummary of its main features would take an able speaker at least acouple of hours. So I humbly confine myself to giving you some hints onthe belief, about which most of you, I presume, have already hadoccasion to hear something, the religion which took its origin among thepeople who claim their descent from the same Aryan stock to which youyourselves belong. Those who would care to read about it will find anexcellent supply of knowledge in two little books called Buddhism andBuddhism in China, written respectively by Dr. Rhys Davids and thelate Rev. S. Beal, not to mention the late Sir Monier Williams' standardwork. A perusal of the Rev. A. Lloyd's paper read before the AsiaticSociety of Japan in 1894, entitled 'Developments of Japanese Buddhism,'is very desirable. There are also two chapters devoted to this doctrinein Lafcadio Hearn's last work, Japan. This enumeration might almostexempt me from making any attempt to describe it myself.

Buddhism has, to begin with, two distinct forms, philosophical andpopular, which may practically be taken as two different religions.Philosophical Buddhism—or at least the truest form of it—is a systembased upon the recognition of the utter impermanency of the phenomenalworld in all its forms and states. It believes in no God or godswhatever as a personal motive power. The only thing eternal is matter,or essence of matter, with the Karma, or Law of cause and effect,dwelling incorporated in it. Through the never-ceasing working of thislaw innumerable forms of existence develop, which, notwithstanding theappearance of stability they temporarily assume, are, in consequence ofthe action and reaction of the very law to which they owe theirexistence, constantly subject to everlasting changes. Constancy isnowhere to be found in this universe of phenomena. It is therefore anact of unspeakable ignorance on the part of human beings, themselves aproduct of the immutable Karma, to attach a constant value to thisdreamy world and allow themselves to lose their mental harmony in thequest of shadowy desires and of their shadowy satisfaction, thusplunging themselves into the boundless sea of misery. True salvation isto be sought in the complete negation of egoism and in the unconditionalabsorption of ourselves in the fundamental law of the universe.Shâkya-muni was no more than one of a series of teachers whose missionit is to show us how to get rid of our fatal ignorance of this grandtruth, an ignorance which is at the root of all the discontent andmisery of our selfish existence.

Very different from this is the aspect assumed by the popular form ofBuddhism. This is a system built up on the blind worship of personifiedpsychic phenomena, originally meant merely as convenient symbols fortheir better contemplation, and in the transformation of the humanteachers of truth into so many personal gods. This is the reason whyBuddhism, so essentially atheistic, has come to be regarded by theordinary Christian mind as polytheism, or as a degraded form ofidolatry.

Now, in all the many sects of Buddhism which have been planted in thesoil of Japan since the middle of the seventh century, some of whichsoon withered, while others took deep root and grew new branches, thesetwo phases have always been recognised and utilised in their propersphere as means of salvation. For the populace there was the lowerBuddhism, while the more elevated classes found satisfaction in thehigher form and in an explanation of that True Path which lies hiddenbeneath the complicated symbolic system.

Of the sects which have exercised great influence on Japanese mentality,the following are specially to be mentioned: the Tendai, the Shingon,the Zen, the Hokke, and the Jodo, with its offspring the Ikkô sect. Eachof these chose its own means of reaching enlightenment from among thoseindicated by Shâkya-muni, but did not on that account entirely rejectthe means of salvation preferred by the others. Some give long lists ofcategories and antitheses, and seek to define the truth with a more thanAristotelian precision of detail, while others think it advisable torealise it by dint of faith alone. But among these means of salvationthe practice advocated by the Zen sect is worthy of specialconsideration in this place, as it has exercised great influence in theformation of the Japanese spirit. Zen means 'abstraction,' standingfor the Sanskrit Dhyâna. It is one of the six means of arriving atNirvâna, namely, (1) charity; (2) morality; (3) patience; (4) energy;(5) contemplation; and (6) wisdom. This practice, which dates from atime anterior to Shâkya himself, consists of an 'abstractcontemplation,' intended to destroy all attachment to existence inthought and wish. From the earliest time Buddhists taught four differentdegrees of abstract contemplation by which the mind frees itself fromall subjective and objective trammels, until it reaches a state ofabsolute indifference or self-annihilation of thought, perception, andwill.[15]

You might perhaps wonder how a method so utterly unpractical andspeculative as that of trying to arrive at final enlightenment by purecontemplation could ever have taken root in Japan, among a people who,generally speaking, have never troubled themselves much about thingsapart from their actual and immediate use. An explanation of this is notfar to seek. Eisai, the founder of the Rinzai school, the branch of theContemplative sect first established on our soil, came back to Japanfrom his second visit to China in 1192 A.D.[16] This was the time whenthe short-lived rule of the Minamoto clan (1186-1219) was nearing theend of its real supremacy. Only fifteen years before that the world hadseen the downfall of another mighty clan. The battle of Dannoura put anend to the Heike ascendancy after an incessant series of desperatebattles extending over a century, giving our soldier-like qualitiesenough occasion for an excellent schooling. The whole country duringthis period had been under the raging sway of Mars, who swept with hisfiery breath the blossoms of human prosperity, and the people high andlow were obliged to recognise the folly of clinging to shadowy desiresand to learn the urgent necessity for facing every emergency withsomething akin to indifference. To pass from glowing life into the coldgrasp of death with a smile, to meet the hardest decrees of fate withthe resolute calm of stoic fortitude, was the quality demanded of everyman and woman in that stormy age. In the meanwhile, different militaryclans had been forming themselves in different parts of Japan andpreparing to wage an endless series of furious battles against oneanother. In half a century too came the one solitary invasion of ourwhole history when a foreign power dared to threaten us withdestruction. The mighty Kublei, grandson of the great Genghis Khan,haughty with his resistless army, whose devastating intrepidity taughteven Europe to tremble at the mention of his name, despatched an embassyto the Japanese court to demand the subjection of the country. Themessage was referred to Kamakura, then the seat of the Hôjô regency, andwas of course indignantly dismissed. Enraged at this, Kublei equipped alarge number of vessels with the choicest soldiers China could furnish.The invading force was successful at first, and committed massacres inIki and Tsushima, islands lying between Corea and Japan. The positionwas menacing; even the steel nerves of the trained Samurai felt thatstrange thrill a patriot knows. Shinto priests and Buddhist monks wereequally busy at their prayers. A new embassy came from the threateningMongol leader. The imperious ambassadors were taken to Kamakura, to beput to death as an unmistakable sign of contemptuous refusal. Atremendous Chinese fleet gathered in the boisterous bay of Genkai in thesummer of 1281. At last the evening came with the ominous glow on thehorizon that foretells an approaching storm. It was the plan of theconquering army victoriously to land the next morning on the holy soilof Kyûshû. But during this critical night a fearful typhoon, known tothis day as the 'Divine Storm,' arose, breaking the jet-black sky withits tremendous roar of thunder and bathing the glittering armour of oursoldiers guarding the coastline in white flashes of dazzling light. Thevery heaven and earth shook before the mighty anger of nature. Theresult was that the dawn of the next morning saw the whole fleet of theproud Yuan, that had darkened the water for miles, swept completely awayinto the bottomless sea of Genkai, to the great relief of thehorror-stricken populace, and to the unspeakable disappointment of ourdetermined soldiers. Out of the hundred thousand warriors who manned theinvading ships, only three are recorded to have survived the destructionto tell the dismal tale to their crestfallen great Khan!

Then after a short interval of a score of peaceful years, Japan wasplunged again into another series of internal disturbances, from whichshe can hardly be said to have emerged until the beginning of theseventeenth century, when order and rest were brought back by the ablehand of Tokugawa Iyeyasu. During all these troublous days, the originalContemplative sect, paralleled soon after its establishment in Japan bya new school called Sôtô, as it was again supplemented by another, theÔbaku school, five centuries afterwards, found ample material topropagate its special method of enlightenment. This sect, which drew itspatrons from the ruling classes of Japan, was unanimously looked up toas best calculated to impart the secret power of perfect self-controland undisturbable peace of mind. It must be remembered that the ultimateriddance in the Buddhist sense, the entrance into cold Nirvâna, was notwhat our practical mind wanted to realise. It was the stoicindifference, enabling man to meet after a moment's thought, or almostinstinctively, any hardships that human life might impose, that hadbrought about its otherwise strange popularity.

Another charm it offered to the people of the illiterate Middle Ages,when they had to attend to other things than a leisurely pursuit ofliterature, was its systematic neglect of book-learning. Truth was to bedirectly read from heart to heart. The intervention of words and writingwas regarded as a hindrance to its true understanding. A rudimentarysymbolism expressed by gestures was all that a Zen priest really reliedupon for the communication of the doctrine. Everybody with a heart tofeel and a mind to understand needed nothing further to begin and finishhis quest of the desired freedom from life's everlasting torments.

The self-control that enables us not to betray our inner feeling througha change in our expression, the measured steps with which we are taughtto walk into the hideous jaws of death—in short, all those qualitieswhich make a present Japanese of truly Japanese type look strange, ifnot queer, to your eyes, are in a most marked degree a product of thatdirect or indirect influence on our past mentality which was exercisedby the Buddhist doctrine of Dhyâna taught by the Zen priests.

Another benefit which the Zen sect conferred on us is the healthyinfluence it exercised on our taste. The love of nature and the desireof purity that we had shown from the earliest days of our history, took,under the leading idea of the Contemplative sect, a new development, andbegan to show that serene dislike of loudness of form and colour. Thatapparent simplicity with a fulness of meaning behind it, like a Dhyânasymbol itself, which we find so pervadingly manifested in our works ofart, especially in those of the Ashikaga period (1400-1600 A.D.), iscertainly to be counted among the most valuable results which the Zendoctrine quickened us to produce.

In short, so far-reaching is the influence of the Contemplative sect onthe formation of the Japanese spirit as you find it at present, that anadequate interpretation of its manifestations would be out of thequestion unless based on a careful study of this branch of Buddhism. Solong as the Zen sect is not duly considered, the whole set of phenomenapeculiar to Japan—from the all-pervading laconism to thehara-kiri—will remain a sealed book.

This fact is my excuse for having detained you for so long on thesubject.

I now pass on to the consideration of our own native cult.

Shinto, or the 'Path of the Gods,' is the name by which we distinguishthe body of our national belief from Buddhism, Christianity, or anyother form of religion. It is remarkable that this appellation, likeNippon (which corresponds to your word Japan), is no purely Japaneseterm. Buddhism is called Buppô (from Butsu, Buddha, and ,doctrine) or Bukkyô (kyô, teaching); Confucianism is known as Jukyô(Ju, literati); and both terms are taken from the Chinese. In keepingwith these we have Shinto (Shin, deity, and to, way). This state ofthings in some measure explains the rather unstable condition in whichBuddhism on its first arrival found our national cult. It has ever sinceremained in its main aspects nothing more than a form ofancestor-worship based on the central belief in the divine origin of theimperial line. A systematised creed it never was and has never become,even if we take into consideration the attempts at its consolidationmade by such scholars as Yamazaki-Ansai (1618-1682), who in the middleof the seventeenth century tried to formalise it in accordance withChu-Hsi's philosophy, or, later still, by such eager revivalists asHirata-Atsutane (1776-1843), etc. At the time when Shintoism had to meetit* mighty foe from India, its whole mechanism was very simple. Itconsisted in a number of primitive rites, such as the recital of theliturgy, the offering of eatables to the departed spirits of deifiedancestors, patriarchal, tribal, or national. This naïve cult was asinnocent of the cunning ideas and subtle formalisms of the rival creedas its shrines were free from the decorations and equipments of anIndian temple. So, although at the start Buddhism met with someobstinate resistance at the hand of the Shintoists, who attributed thevisitations of pestilence that followed the introduction of the foreignbelief to the anger of the native gods, its superiority in organisationsoon overcame these difficulties; especially from the time when thegreat Buddhist priest Kûkai (774-835 A.D.) hit upon the ingenious butmischievous idea of solving the dilemma by the establishment of what isgenerally known in our history as Ryôbu-Shinto, or double-faced Shinto.According to this doctrine, a Shinto god was to be regarded as anincarnation of a corresponding Indian deity, who made his appearance inJapan through metamorphosis for Japan's better salvation—a doctrinewhich is no more than a clever application of the notion known in Indiaas Nirmanakâya. This incarnation theory opened a new era in the historyof the expansion of Buddhism in Japan, extending over a period of elevencenturies, during which Shintoism was placed in a very awkward position.It was at last restored to its original purity at the beginning of thepresent Meiji period, and that only after a century of determinedendeavour on the part of native Shintoist scholars.

From these words you might perhaps conclude that Buddhism succeeded insupplanting the native cult, at least for more than a thousand years.But, strange to say, if we judge the case not by outward appearances,but by the religious conviction that lurks in the depth of the heart, wecannot but recognise the undeniable fact that no real conversion hasever been achieved during the past eleven centuries by the doctrine ofBuddha. Our actual self, notwithstanding the different clothes we haveput on has ever remained true in its spirit to our native cult. Speakinggenerally, we are still Shintoists to this day—Buddhists, Christians,and all—so long as we are born Japanese. This might sound to yousomewhat paradoxical. Here is the explanation:—

For an average Japanese mind in present Japan, thanks to theancestor-worship practised consciously or unconsciously from timeimmemorial, it is not altogether easy to imagine the spirit of thedeceased, if it believes in one at all, to be something different anddistant from our actual living self. The departed, although invisible,are thought to be leading their ethereal life in the same world in muchthe same state as that to which they had been accustomed while on earth.Like the little child so touchingly described by Wordsworth, we cannotsee why we should not count the so-called dead still among the existing.The difference between the two is that of tangibility or visibility, butnothing more.

The raison d'être of this illusive notion is, of course, not far toseek. Any book on anthropology or ethnology would tell you how sleep,trance, dream, hallucination, reflection in still water, etc., help tobuild up the spirit-world in the untaught mind of primitive man. Yet itmust be remembered that these origins have led to something far higher,to something of real value to our nation, and to something which is amoral force in our daily lives that may well be compared to what isefficacious in other creeds. Notice the fact that Buddhism from themoment of its introduction in the sixth century after Christ to thisvery day has on the whole remained the religion, so to say, of night andgloomy death, while Shintoism has always retained its firm hold on thepopular mind as the cult, if I might so express it, of daylight and theliving dead. From the very dawn of our history we read of patriarchs,chieftains, and national heroes deified and worshipped as so manyguardian spirits of families, of clans, or of the country. Nor has thisprocess of deification come to an end yet, even in this age of airshipand submarine boat. We continue to erect shrines to men of merit. Thismay look very strange to you, but is not your poet Swinburne right whenhe sings—

'Whoso takes the world's life on him and his own
lays down,
He, dying so, lives.'

Might not these lines explain, when duly extended, the subtle feelingthat lurks behind our apparently incomprehensible custom of speakingwith the departed over the altar? The present deification, is, like yourcustom of erecting monuments to men of merit, a way of making the bestpart of a man's career legible to the coming generations. The numberlessshrines you now find scattered all over Japan are only so many chapterswritten in unmistakable characters of the lessons our beloved andrevered heroes and good men have left us for our edification andamelioration. It is in the sunny space within the simple railing ofthese Shinto shrines, where the smiling presence of the patron spirit ofa deified forefather or a great man is so clearly felt, that ourchildhood has played for tens of centuries its games of innocent joy.Monthly and yearly festivals are observed within the divine enclosure ofa guardian god, when a whole community under his protection letthemselves go in good-natured laughter and gleeful mirth before thefavouring eyes of their divine patron. How different is this jovialfeeling from that gloomy sensation with which we approach a Buddhisttemple, recalling death and the misery of life from every corner of itsmysterious interior. Such seriousness has never been congenial to thegay Japanese mind with its strong love of openness and light. Untildeath stares us right in the face, we do not care to be religious in theordinary sense of the term. True, we say and think that we believe indeath, but all the while this so-called death is nothing else than a newlife in this present world of ours led in a supernatural way. Forinstance, when the father of a Japanese family begins a journey of anylength, the raised part of his room will be made sacred to his memoryduring his temporary absence; his family will gather in front of it andthink of him, expressing their devotion and love in words and gifts inkind. In the hundreds of thousands of families that have some one orother of their members fighting for the nation in this dreadful war withRussia, there will not be even one solitary house where the mother,wife, or sister is not practising this simple rite of endearment for thebeloved and absent member of the family. And if he die on the field, themental attitude of the poor bereaved towards the never-returning doesnot show any substantial difference. The temporarily departed will nowbe regarded as the forever departed, but not as lost or passed away. Hisessential self is ever present, only not visible. Daily offerings andsalutations continue in exactly the same way as when he was absent for atime. Even in the mind of the modern Japanese with its extremelyagnostic tendencies, there is still one corner sacred to this inheritedfeeling. You could sooner convince an ordinary European of thenon-existence of a personal God. When it gets dusk every bird knowswhither to wing its way home. Even so with us all when the night ofDeath spreads its dark folds over our mortal mind!

But ask a modern Japanese of ordinary education in the broad daylight oflife, if he believes in a God in the Christian sense; or in Buddha asthe creator; or in the Shinto deities; or else in any other personalagency or agencies, as originating and presiding over the universe; andyou would immediately get an answer in the negative in ninety-nine casesout of a hundred. Do you ask why? First, because our school educationthroughout its whole course has, ever since its re-establishmentthirty-five years ago, been altogether free from any teaching of adenominational nature. The ethical foundations necessary for thebuilding up of character are imparted through an adequate commentary onthe moral sayings and maxims derived mostly from Chinese classics.Secondly, because the little knowledge about natural science which weobtain at school seems to make it impossible to anchor our rationalselves on anything other than an impersonal law. Thirdly, because we donot see any convincing reason why morals should be based on the teachingof a special denomination, in face of the fact that we can be uprightand brave without the help of a creed with a God or deities at its otherend. So, for the average mind of the educated Japanese something likemodern scientific agnosticism, with a strong tendency towards thematerialistic monism of recent times, is just what pleases and satisfiesit most.

If not so definitely thought out, and if expressed with much lesslearned terminology, the thought among our educated classes as regardssupernatural agencies has during the past three centuries been much thesame. The Confucian warning against meddling with things supernatural,the atheistic views and hermit-like conduct of the adherents of Laoism,and the higher Buddhism, all contributed towards the consolidation ofthis mental attitude with a conscious or unconscious belief in theexisting spirit-world. Except for the philosophy which they knew how toutilise for their practical purposes, the educated felt no charm inreligion. The lower form of Buddhism with its pantheon has been held assomething only for the aged and the weak. For the execution of thereligious rites, at funerals or on other occasions (except in the rareinstances when some families for a special reason of their own preferredthe Shintoist form), we have unanimously drawn on the Buddhistpriesthood, just in the same way as you go to your family doctor orattorney in case of a bodily or legal complication, knowing well thatreligion as we have understood it is something as much outside the paleof the layman as medicine and law.

For the proper conduct of our daily life as members of society, the bodyof Confucian morality resting on the tripod of loyalty, filial piety,and honesty, has been the only standard which high and low have alikerecognised. These ethical ideals, when embraced by that formidablewarrior caste who played such an important part in feudal Japan, formthe code of unwritten morality known among us as Bushido, which meansthe Path of the Samurai. This last word, which has found its way intoyour language, is the substantival derivative from the verb samurau(to serve), and, like its English counterpart 'knight' (Old Englishcniht), has raised itself from its original sense of a retainer (cp.German Knecht) to the meaning in which it is now used. To be a Samuraiin the true sense of the word has been the highest aspiration of aJapanese. Your term 'gentleman,' when understood in its best sense,would convey to you an approximate idea if you added a dash of soldierblood to it. Rectitude, courage, benevolence, politeness, veracity,loyalty, and a predominating sense of honour—these are the chiefcolours with which a novelist in the days of yore used to paint an idealSamurai; and his list of desirable qualities was not considered completewithout a well-developed body and an expression of the face that wasmanly but in no way brutal. No special stress was at first laid on thecultivation of thinking power and book-learning, though they were notaltogether discouraged; it was thought that these accomplishments mightdevelop other qualities detrimental to the principal character, such assophistry or pedantry. To have good sense enough to keep his namehonourable, and to act instead of talking cleverly, was the chiefambition of a Samurai.

But this view gradually became obscured. It lost its fearful rigidity incourse of time, as the world became more and more sure of a lastingpeace. Literature and music have gradually added softening touches toits somewhat brusque features.

It must, however, be always remembered that the keynote of Bushido wasfrom the very beginning an indomitable sense of honour. This was all inall to the mind of the Samurai, whose sword at his side reminded him atevery movement of the importance of his good name. The care with whichhe preserved it reached in some cases to a pathetic extreme; hepreferred, for example, an instant suicide to a reputation on whichdoubt had been cast, however falsely. The very custom of seppuku (betterknown as hara-kiri), a form of suicide not known in early Japan,[17] isan outcome of this love of an unstained name, originating, in myopinion, in the metaphorical use of the word hara (abdomen), which wasthe supposed organ for the begetting of ideas. In consequence of thiscurious localisation of the thinking faculty, the word hara came todenote at the same time intention or idea. Therefore, in cutting open(kiru) his abdomen, a person whose motives had come to be suspectedmeant to show that his inside was free from any trace of ideas notworthy of a Samurai. This explanation is, I think, amply sustained bythe constant use to this very day of the word hara in the sense ofone's ideas.

So Bushido, as you will now see, was itself but a manifestation of thosesame forces already at work in the formation of Japanese thought, likeBuddhism, Confucianism, etc. But as it has played a most important partin the development of modern Japan, I thought it more proper to considerit as an independent factor in the history of our civilisation. Had itnot been for this all-daring spirit of Bushido, Japan would never havebeen able to make the gigantic progress which she has been achieving inthese last forty years. As soon as our ports were flung open to thereception of Western culture, Samurai, now deeply conscious of their newmission, took leave of those stern but faithful friends, their belovedswords, not without much reluctance, even as did Sir Bedivere, in orderto take up the more peaceful pen, which they were determined to wieldwith the same knightly spirit. It is, in short, Bushido that has urgedour Japan on for the last three centuries, and will continue to urge heron, on forever, onward to her ideals of the true, the good, and thebeautiful. Look to the spot where every Japanese sabre and everyJapanese bayonet is at present pointing with its icy edge of determinedpatriotism in the dreary fields of Manchuria, or think of the intrepidheroes on our men-of-war and our torpedo-boats amid blinding snowstormsand the glare of hostile searchlights, and your eyes will invariably endat the magic Path of the Samurai.

Having thus far followed my enumeration of the various factors in theformation of the present thought in Japan, some of you might perhaps becurious to know what Christianity has contributed towards the generalstock of modern Japanese mentality.

It must surely have exercised a very healthy influence on our mind sinceits re-introduction at the beginning of the present Meiji period. Somehave indeed gone so far as to say that we owe the whole success we haveup to now achieved in this remarkable war to the holy inspiration wedrew from the teaching of Jesus Christ.

I indorse this opinion to its full extent, but only if we are tounderstand by His teaching that whole body of truth and love which areof the essence of Christianity, and which we used in former days to callby other names, such as Bushido, Confucianism, etc. But if you insist onhaving it understood in a narrow sectarian sense, with a personal Godand rigid formalities as its main features, then I should say that Icannot agree with you, for this Christianity occupies rather an awkwardplace in our Japanese mind, finding itself somewhere between thenational worship of the living dead, and modern agnosticism, orscientific monism. In our earlier fishery for new knowledge in theWestern seas, fish other than those fit for our table were caught anddressed along with some really nourishing; the result was disastrous,and we gradually came to learn more caution than at first. The RomanCatholics, more enthusiastic than discreet, committed wholesale outrageson our harmless ways of faith in the early days of the seventeenthcentury, which did much to leave in bad repute the creed of JesusChrist. And since the prohibition against Christianity was removed, manya missionary has been so particular about the plate in which the truthis served as to make us doubt, with reason, if that be the spirit of theimmortal Teacher. The truth and poetry that breathe in your Gospels havebeen too often paraphrased in the senseless prose of mere formalism.Otherwise Christianity would have rendered us better help in our eternalmarch towards the ideal emancipation.

There remains still one highly important thing to be considered as aformative element of the Japanese spirit. I mean the landscape and thephysical aspects of Japan in general.

It is well known that an intimate connection exists between the mind andthe nature which surrounds it. A moment's consideration of thedevelopment of Hellenic sculpture and of the Greek climate, or of theTeutonic mythology and the physical condition of Northern Europe, willbring conviction on that point. Is not the effect of the blue sky onItalian painting, and the influence of the dusky heaven on the,pictorial art of the Netherlands, clearly traceable in the productionsof the old masters? A study of London psychology at the present momentwill never be complete without special chapters on your open spaces andyour fogs.

In order to convey anything like an adequate idea of the physicalaspects of Japan from the geographical and meteorological points ofview, it would be necessary to furnish a detailed account of thecountry, with a long list of statistical tables and the ample help oflantern slides. But on this occasion I must be content with naming someof the typical features of our surroundings.

Japan, as you know, is a long and narrow series of islands, stretchingfrom frigid Kamchatka in the north to half-tropical Formosa in thesouth. The whole country is mountainous, with comparatively little flatland, and is perforated with a great number of volcanoes, the activeones alone numbering above fifty at present. With this is connected theannoying frequency of earthquakes, and the agreeable abundance ofthermal springs—two phenomena that cannot remain without effect on thepeople's character.

There are two other natural agencies to be mentioned in this connection.One is the Kuro-shio, or Black Stream, so called on account of the deepblack colour which the ocean current displays in cloudy weather. Thiswarm ocean river, having a temperature of 27° centigrade in summer,begins its course in the tropical regions near the Philippine Islands,and on reaching the southern isles is divided by them into two unequalparts. The greater portion of it skirts the Japanese islands on theireastern coast, imparting to them that warm and moist atmosphere which isone source of the fertility of the soil and the beauty of thevegetation. The effect of the Kuro-shio upon the climate and productionsof the lands along which it flows may be fairly compared with that ofthe Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean, which in situation, direction,and volume it resembles. To this most noticeable cause of the climaticcondition of the Japanese islands must be added another agency closelyrelated to it in its effect. Our archipelago lies in the region of thenortheast monsoon, which affects in a marked degree the climate of allthose parts over which the winds blow. Although the same monsoon blowsover the eastern countries of the Asiatic continent, the insularcharacter of Japan, and the proximity of the above-mentioned warmcurrent on both sides of the islands, give to the winds which prevail acharacter they do not possess on the continent.

Although the effect of the chill and frost of the northern part ofJapan, with its heavy snowfall and covered sky, cannot be without itsdepressing influence on human nature in that part of the island, thishas not played any serious role in the formation of the Japanesecharacter as a whole. It is only at a rather recent date that thenorthern provinces began to contribute their share to the generalprogress of the country. This can very easily be explained by thegradual advance of Japanese civilisation from the southwest to thenortheast. Until comparatively lately the colder region of Japan northof the 37th degree of latitude has remained very nearly inactive in ourhistory. It is almost exclusively in the more sunny south, extendingdown to the 31st degree, that the main activity of the Japanese mind andhand has been shown. And the effect is the sunniness of character andrather hot temperament which we, as a whole, share in a marked degreewith the southern Europeans, as contrasted with the somewhat gloomy calmand deliberation noticed both among oriental and occidental northerners.

Notwithstanding the comparatively high amount of rainfall, the factremains that as a nation we have spent most of our life under the serenecanopy of blue sky characteristic of a volcanic country. Mountains,graceful rather than sublime, and fertile plains with rich verdure, itsbeauties changing slowly from the white blossoms of spring to thecrimson leaves of autumn, have afforded us many welcome sights to restour eyes upon; while the azure stretch of water, broken agreeably byscattered isles, washes to-day as it did in the days of the gods thewhite shore, rendered conspicuous by the everlasting green of the pinetrees, which skirts the Land of the Rising Sun.

The winter, though it begins its dreary course with a short period ofwarm days known as the Little Spring, is of course not without its bleakmornings with cutting winds and icy wreaths. But the fact that even asfar north as Tôkyô no elaborate system of warming rooms is at alldeveloped, and that the occasional falling of snow is hailed even byaged men of letters, and still more by the numerous poetasters, as a fitoccasion for a pedestrian excursion to some neighboring localities for abetter appreciation of the silvery world, serves to show how mild thecold is in south Japan.

A people on whom the surrounding nature always smiles so indulgently canbe little expected to be driven to turn their thoughts in the directionof their own self, and thus to develop such a strong sense ofindividuality as characterises the rigid northerners; nor are thenations panting under a scorching sun likely to share our friendlyfeelings towards nature, for with them Father Sun is too rigorous toallow a peaceful enjoyment of his works.

All through the four seasons, which are almost too varied even for aThomson's pen, eventful with the constant calls of one after another ofour flowery visitors—beginning with the noble plum that peeps with itstiny yellowish-white eyes from under the spotless repose of fleecy snow,and ending in the gay variety of the chrysanthemum—we have too manyallurements from outside not to leap into the widespread arms of MotherNature and dream away our simple, our contented life in her lap. True,there also are in Japan many instances of broken hearts seeking theirfinal rest under the green turf of an untimely grave, or else in thegrey mantle of the Buddhist monkhood. But in them, again, we see thecharacteristic determination and action of a Japanese at work. Toindulge in Hamlet-like musing, deep in the grand doubt and sublimemelancholy of the never-slumbering question 'To be, or not to be?' issomething, so to say, too damp to occur in the sunny thought of ouropen-air life.

If asked to name the most conspicuous of those physical phenomena whichhave exercised so great an influence on our mind, no Japanese willhesitate to mention our most beloved Fuji-no-yama. This is the highestand the most beautiful of all the great mountains in the main group ofthe Japanese islands. Gracefully conical in shape, lifting its snowcladhead against a serene background 12,365 feet above the sea, it has fromthe earliest time been the object of unceasing admiration for thesurrounding thirteen provinces, and where it stands out of the reach ofthe naked eye, winged words from the poet's lyre, and flying leaves fromthe artist's brush, have carried its never-tiring praise to all thenooks and corners of the Land of the Gods.

Here is one of the earliest odes to Fujiyama, contained in a collectionof lyrical poems called Man-yô-shû, or 'Myriad Leaves,' by Prince Moroe(died A.D. 757), somewhere in the first half of the eighth century:—

There on the border, where the land of Kahi
Doth touch the frontier of Suruga's land,
A beauteous province stretched on either hand,
See Fujiyama rear his head on high!

The clouds of heav'n in rev'rent wonder pause,
Nor may the birds those giddy heights essay,
Where melt thy snows amid thy fires away,
Or thy fierce fires lie quench'd beneath thy snows.

What name might fitly tell, what accents sing,
Thy awful, godlike grandeur? 'Tis thy breast
That holdeth Narusaha's flood at rest,
Thy side whence Fujikaha's waters spring.

Great Fujiyama, tow'ring to the sky!
A treasure art thou giv'n to mortal man,
A god-protector, watching o'er Japan:
On thee for ever let me feast mine eye!

This now extinct volcano, besides inspiring poetical efforts, has beenan inexhaustible subject for our pictorial art; it is enough to mentionthe famous sets of colour prints, representing the thirty-six or thehundred aspects of the favourite mountain, by Hiroshige, Hokusai, etc.The groups of rural pilgrims that annually swarm from all parts of Japanduring the two hottest months of the year to pay their pious visit tothe Holy Mount Fuji, return to their respective villages deeply inspiredwith a feeling of reverence and of love for the wonders and beauty ofthe remarkable dawn they witnessed from its summit.

There is many another towering mountain with its set of pilgrims, butnone can vie with Fujiyama for majestic grace. More beautiful thansublime, more serene than imposing, it has been from time immemorial asilent influence on the Japanese character. Who would deny that it hasreflected in its serenity and grace as seen on a bright day all theideals of the Japanese mind?

Another favourite emblem of our spirit is the cherry blossom. The cherrytree, which we cultivate, not for its fruit, but for the annual tributeof a branchful of its flowers, has done much, especially in thedevelopment of the gay side of our character. Its blossoms are void ofthat sweet depth of scent your rose possesses, or the calm repose thatcharacterizes China's emblematic peony. A sunny gaiety and a readinessto scatter their heart-shaped petals with a Samurai's indifference todeath are what make them so dear to our simple and determined view oflife. There is an ode known to every Japanese by the great MotooriNorinaga (1730-1801 A.D.) which runs as follows:—

Shikishima no
Yamata-gokoro wo
Hito toha ba,
Asahi ni nihofu

(Should any one ask me what the spirit of Japan is like, I would pointto the blossoms of the wild cherry tree bathing in the beams of themorning sun.)

These words, laconic as they are, represent, in my opinion, thefundamental truth about the Japanese mentality—its weak places as wellas its strength. They give an incomparable key to the properunderstanding of the whole people, whose ideal it has ever been to liveand to die like the cherry blossoms, beneath which they have these tensof centuries spent their happiest hours every spring.

The mention of a Japanese poem gives me an opportunity to say somethingabout Japanese poetry. Like other early people, our forefathers inarchaic time liked to express their thoughts in a measured form oflanguage. The whole structure of the tongue being naturally melodious,on account of its consisting of open syllables with clear and sonorousvowels and little of the harsh consonantal elements in them, the numberof syllables in a line has been almost the only feature thatdistinguished our poetry from ordinary prose composition. The taste fora lengthened form of poems had lost ground early, and already at the endof the ninth century after Christ the epigrammatic form exemplifiedabove, consisting of thirty-one syllables, established itself as theordinary type of the Japanese odes.

This form subdivides itself into two parts, viz., the upper halfcontaining three lines of five, seven, and again five syllables, and thelower half consisting of two lines of seven syllables each. Thissimplicity has made it impossible to express in it anything more than apithy appeal to our lyrical nature; epic poetry in the strict sense ofthe word has never been developed by us.

But it must be noticed that it is this simplicity of form of ourpoetical expression that has put it within the reach of almosteverybody. To all of us without distinction of class and sex has beenaccorded the sacred pleasure of satisfying and thus developing ourpoetical nature, so long as we had a subject to sing and could countsyllables up to thirty-one. The language resorted to in such acomposition was at first the same as that in use in everyday life. Butafterwards as succeeding forms of the vernacular gradually deviated fromthe classical type, a special grammar along with a special vocabularyhad to be studied by the would-be poet. This was avoided, however, bythe development in the sixteenth century of a popular and still shorterform of ode called Hokku, with much less strict regulations aboutsyntax and phraseology. This ultra-short variety of Japanese poetry,consisting only of seventeen syllables, is in form the upper half of theregular poem. Here is an example:—

Asagaho ni
Tsurube torarete

Sketchy as it is, this tells us that the composer Chiyo, 'having gone toher well one morning to draw water, found that some tendrils of theconvolvulus had twined themselves around the rope. As a poetess and awoman of taste, she could not bring herself to disturb the daintyblossoms. So, leaving her own well to the convolvuli, she went andbegged water of a neighbor'—a pretty little vignette, surely, andexpressed in five words.

This new movement, which owes its real development to a remarkable mancalled Bashô (1644-1649), a mystic of the Zen sect to the tip of hisfingers, had an aim that was strictly practical. 'He wished to turnmen's lives and thoughts in a better and a higher direction, and heemployed one branch of art, namely poetry, as the vehicle for theethical influence to whose exercise he devoted his life. The very wordpoetry (or haikai) came in his mouth to stand for morality. Did any ofhis followers transgress the code of poverty, simplicity, humility,long-suffering, he would rebuke the offender with a "This is notpoetry," meaning "This is not right." His knowledge of nature and hissympathy with nature were at least as intimate as Wordsworth's, and hissympathy with all sorts and conditions of men was far more intimate; forhe never isolated himself from his kind, but lived cheerfully in theworld.'[18]

Now, this form of popular literature by virtue of its accessibility evento the poorest amateurs from the lowest ranks of the people, wasmarkedly instrumental, as the now classical form of poetry had beenduring the Middle Ages, in the cultivation of taste and good mannersamong all classes of the Japanese nation. Even among the ricksha men ofto-day you find many such humble poets, taking snapshots as they runalong the stony path of their miserable life. I wonder if your hansomdrivers are equally aspiring in this respect.

In all these phases of the development of our poetry, we notice, as oneof its peculiarities, a strong inclination to the exercise of the wittyside of our nature. Even if we leave out of consideration the so-called'pillow word' (makura-kotoba), so profusely resorted to in our ancientpoems, part of which were nothing but a naïve sort of jeu de mots, andthe abundant use of other plays on words of later development, known askakekotoba, jo, shûku, etc. (haikai-no-uta), it is noteworthythat poems of a comic nature found a special place in the earliestimperial collection of Japanese odes named Kokinshifu,' which wascompiled in the year A.D. 908. This species has flourished ever sinceunder the name of Kyôka, and also gave rise to a shortened form inseventeen syllables, called haikai-no-hokku. When in the hand of Bashôthis latter form developed itself into something higher and moreserious, the witty and satirical Senryû, also in seventeen syllables,came to take its place.

One thing to be specially noted in this connection is the introductionfrom China of the idea of poetic tournaments, the beauty of whichconsisted in the offhand and quick composition of one long series ofodes by several persons sitting together, each supplying in turn eitherthe upper half or the lower half as the case might be, the two incombination giving a poetical sense. This usage of capping verses knownas renga came to be very popular, from the Court downward, as early asthe thirteenth century. After a while the same practice was applied tocomic poetry, thus producing the so-called haikai-no-renga, or comiclinked verses. This coupling of verses gave plenty of occasion forsharpening one's wit as well as one's skill in extemporising. It is to alater attempt to express all these subtleties in the upper half of thepoem composed by one person that the present kokku owed its origin.You can easily imagine the effect such an exercise produced on thepopular mind. Besides the moral good which this literary pursuit hasbrought to the populace, it has given a fresh opportunity for thecultivation of our habit of attaching sense to apparently meaninglessgroups of phenomena, and our fondness of laconic utterance and symbolicrepresentation, not to say anything about our love of nature andsimplicity.

All this tends in my view to show that we Japanese have a strong likingfor wit in the wider sense of the word. We try to solve a question, notby that slower but surer way of calm deliberation and untiring labourlike the cool-headed Germans, but by an incandescent flash ofinspiration like the hot-blooded Frenchmen. This fact is singularlypreserved in the earlier sense of the now sacred word Yamato-damashî,which had not its present meaning, viz., 'the spirit of Japan' in themost elevated sense of that term, but signified 'the wit of theJapanese' as contrasted with the 'learning of the Chinese' (wakon asopposed to kansai). The word tamashî, which now expresses the ideaof 'spirit,' corresponds in the compound in question to the Frenchesprit in such combinations as homme d'esprit or jeu d'esprit.

Turning now to the consideration of other sets of phenomena, as anillustration of the Japanese character, let me tell you something aboutthe tea-ceremony and kindred rites.

To begin with the Cha-no-e (or Cha-no-yu), or tea-meeting, thismuch-spoken-of art originated among the Buddhist priests, who learned toappreciate the beverage from the Chinese. Indeed, the tea-plant itselfwas first introduced into Japan along with the name Cha (ChineseCh'a) from the Celestial Empire, in the tenth century after Christ.During the following centuries its cultivation and the preparation ofthe drink was monopolised by the priesthood, if we except the cases of afew well-to-do men of letters. This fact is gathered from the frequentmention of tea-cups offered to the emperor on the occasion of animperial visit to a Buddhist monastery. During all this time a sense ofsomething precious and aristocratic was attached to this aromaticbeverage, which had been regarded as a kind of rare drug of strangevirtue in raising depressed spirits, and even of curing certaindiseases.

This high appreciation of the drink, as well as the need of ceremony inoffering it to exalted personages, gradually developed in the hands ofmonks with plenty of leisure and a good knowledge of the high praiseaccorded to its virtues by the Chinese savants, into a very complicatedrite as to the way of serving, and of being served with, a cup of tea. Aprint representing a man clad as a Buddhist priest in the act of sellingthe beverage in the street at a penny a cup is preserved from a date asearly as the fourteenth century, showing that the drink had then come tofind customers even among the common people. But the ceremony ofCha-no-e, as such, never made its way among them until many centuriesafter. It was at first fostered and elaborated only among thearistocracy. Already in the fifteenth century, when the luxury andextravagance of the Ashikaga Shogunate reached its zenith in the personof Yoshimasa (1435-1490), the tea-ceremony was one of the favouritepastimes of the highest classes. Yoshimasa himself was a great patronand connoisseur of the complicated rite, as well as of other branches ofart, such as landscape gardening and the arrangement of flowers.

There are two different phases of the tea-ceremony, the regular courseand the simplified course, known among us as the 'Great Tea' and the'Small Tea.' In either case, it might be defined in its present form asa system of cultivating good manners as applied to daily life, with theserving and drinking of a cup of tea at its centre. The main stress islaid on ensuring outwardly a graceful carriage, and inwardly presence ofmind. As with the national form of wrestling known as ju-jitsu, withits careful analysis of every push and pull down to the minutestdetails, so with the Cha-no-e, every move of body and limb in walkingand sitting during the whole ceremony has been fully studied and workedout so as to give it the most graceful form conceivable. At the sametime the calm and self-control shown by the partaker in the rite isregarded as an essential element in the performance, without whichultimate success in it will be quite impossible. So it is more aphysical and moral training than a mere amusem*nt or a simple quenchingof thirst. But this original sense has not always been kept in view evenby the so-called masters of the tea-ceremony, who, like yourdancing-masters, are generally considered to be the men to teach ussocial etiquette. Thus, diverted from its original idea, the Cha-no-e isgenerally found to degenerate into a body of conventional andmeaningless formalities, which, even in its most abbreviated form as the'Small Tea,' is something very tiresome, if not worse. To sit à lajaponaise (not à la turque, which is not considered polite) for anhour, if not for hours together, on the matted floor to see thecelebration of the monotonous rite, daring to talk only little, and eventhen not above a whisper, in the smallest imaginable tea-room, is notwhat even a born Japanese of the present day can much appreciate, muchless so Europeans, who would prefer being put in the stocks, unless theybe themselves Cha-jin or tea-ceremonialists, that is to say, eccentrics.How to open the sliding-door; how to shut it each time; how to bring andarrange the several utensils, with their several prescribed ways ofbeing handled, into the tea-room; how to sit down noiselessly in frontof the boiling kettle which hangs over a brasier; how to open the lid ofthe kettle; how to put tea-powder in the cup; how to pour hot water overit; how to stir the now green water with a bamboo brush; how to give themixture a head of foam; how and where to place the cup ready for theexpecting drinker—this on the part of the person playing the host orhostess; and now on the part of the guest—how to take a sweet from thedish before him in preparation for the coming aromatic drink; how totake up the cup now given him; how to hold it with both hands; how togive it a gentle stir; how to drink it up in three sips and a half; howto wipe off the trace of the sipping left on the edge of the cup; how toturn the cup horizontally round; how to put it down within the reach ofhis host or hostess, etc., etc., ad infinitum—these are some of theessential items to be learned and practised. And for every one of themthere is a prescribed form even to the slightest move and curve in whicha finger should be bent or stretched, always in strict accordance withthe attitude of other bodies in direct connection with it. The wholeceremony in its degenerated form is an aggregate of an immense number ofcomme il faut's, with practically no margin for personal taste. Buteven behind its present frigidity we cannot fail to discern the trueidea and the good it has worked in past centuries. It has done a greatdeal of good, especially in those rough days at the end of the sixteenthcentury, when great warriors returning blood-stained from the field ofbattle learned how to bow their haughty necks in admiration of thecurves of beauty, and how to listen to the silvery note of a boilingtea-kettle. They could not help their stern faces melting into a naïvesmile in the serene simplicity of the tea-room, whose arrangement, trueto the Zen taste to the very last detail of its structure, showed astudied avoidance of ostentation in form and colour. To this day it isalways this Zen taste that rules supreme in the decoration of a Japanesehouse.

Visit a Japanese gentleman whose taste is not yet badly influenced bythe Western love of show and symmetry in his dwelling: you will find theroom and the whole arrangement free from anything of an ostentatiousnature. The colour of the walls and sliding-doors will be very subdued,but not on that account gloomy. In the niche you will see one or asingle set of kakemono, or pictures, at the foot of which, just in themiddle of the slightly raised floor of the niche, we put some object ofdecoration—a sculpture, a vase with flowers, etc. These are bothcarefully changed in accordance with the season, or else in harmony withthe ruling idea of the day, when the room is decorated in celebration ofsome event or guest. This rule applies to the other objects connectedwith the room—utensils, cushions, screens, etc.

The European way of arranging a room is, generally speaking, ratherrevolting to our taste. We take care not to show anything but what isabsolutely necessary to make a room look agreeable, keeping all otherthings behind the scenes. Thus we secure to every object of art that weallow in our presence a fair opportunity of being appreciated. This isnot usually the case in a European dwelling. I have very often felt lesscrowded in a museum or in a bazaar than in your drawing-rooms. 'You knowso well how to expose to view what you have,' I have frequently hadoccasion to say to myself, 'but you have still much to learn from us howto hide, for exposition is, after all, a very poor means of showing.'

To return to the main point, we owe to the Cha-no-e much of the presentstandard of our taste, which is, in its turn, nothing more than the Zenways of looking at things as applied to everyday life. This is nowonder, when we remember that it was in the tasteful hands of the Zenpriests that the whole ceremony reached its perfection. Indeed, the wordcha is a term which conveys to this day the main features of theContemplative sect to our mind.

In connection with the tea-ceremony, there are some sister arts whichhave been equally effective in the proper cultivation of our taste.Landscape gardening, in which our object is to make an idealised copy ofsome natural scene, is an art that has been loved and practised among usfor more than a thousand years, although it was not indigenous like mostthings Japanese. This practice of painting with tree and stone soon gaverise to another art, the miniature reproduction of a favourite naturalscene on a piece of board, and this is the forerunner of the laterbonkei, or the tray-landscape, and its sister bonsai, or the art ofsymbolising an abstract idea, such as courage, majesty, etc., by meansof the growth of a dwarf tree.

The same love that we feel for a symbolic representation is also to betraced in the arrangement of flowers. The practice of preserving cutbranches, generally of flowering trees, in a vase filled with water isoften mentioned in our classical literature. But it was first in thesixteenth century that it assumed its present aspect, when, inconjunction with the Cha-no-e, it found a great patron in that mostinfluential dilettante Shogun Yoshimasa. Already in his time there werea great many principles to be learned concerning the way to give thelongest life and the most graceful form to the branches put in a vase,besides investing the whole composition with a symbolic meaning. Up tothis day we look upon this art as very helpful for the cultivation oftaste among the fair sex, who receive long courses of instruction by thegenerally aged masters of floral arrangement, who, along with theirteaching in the treatment of plants, know how to instil ethics in theiryoung pupils, taking the finished vase of flowers as the subject ofconversation. The masters of the tea-ceremony are also well versed inarranging flowers in that simple manner which is yet full of meaningcalled cha-bana, or the 'Zen type of floral art.'

You see how much all these arts have contributed to the production ofour taste, whose ideals are the dislike of loudness and love of symbolicrepresentation, with a delicate feeling for the beauty of line as seenin things moving or at rest. This last quality must have been immenselyaugmented by the linear character of our drawing, and also by the greatimportance we are accustomed to attach to the shape and the strokes ofthe characters when we are learning to write.

All these qualities you will see exemplified in any Japanese work ofart—from a large picture down to a tiny wooden carving. Take up agirl's silk dress and examine it carefully, and note how the lining isdyed and embroidered with as great, if not greater care, in order tomake it harmonise in colour and design with the visible surface and addsome exquisite meaning. Do not forget to look at the back when you comeacross a lacquered box, for it is not only the surface that receives ourcareful attention. And above all, you must always keep in mind that ourartists think it a duty to be suggestive rather than explicit, and toleave something of their meaning to be divined by those who contemplatetheir works.

The time is now come to conclude my essay at an exposition of theJapanese spirit. I think I have given you occasion to see something ofboth the strong and the weak sides of my countrymen; for it is justwhere our favourable qualities lie that you will also find thecorresponding weaknesses. The usual charges brought against us, that weare precocious, unpractical, frivolous, fickle, etc., are not worthy ofserious attention, because they are all of them easily explained as butthe attendant phenomena of the transitory age from which we are justemerging. Even the more sound accusation of our want of originality mustbe reconsidered in face of so many facts to the contrary, facts whichshow us to be at least in small things very original, almost in theFrench sense of that word. That we have always been ready to borrowhints from other countries is in a great measure to be explained by theconsideration that we had from the very beginning the disadvantage andthe advantage of having as neighbours nations with a great start in therace-course of civilisation. The cause of our being small in greatthings, while great in small things, can be partly found in thefinancial conditions of the country and in the non-individual nature ofthe culture we have received. These delicate questions will have to beraised again some centuries hence, when a healthy admixture of theEuropean civilisation has been tried—a civilisation the effect of whichhas been, on the whole, so beneficial to our development, that we feelit a most agreeable duty gratefully to acknowledge our immenseobligation to the nations of the West.


[1] The Soul of a People.

[2] Professor T. Inouye's little pamphlet, published first inFrench, entitled Sur le Développement des Idées Philosophiques au Japonavant l'Introduction de la Civilisation Européenne, will give you someidea of our philosophic systems. For a serious perusal, its Germantranslation, annotated and amplified, by Dr. A. Gramatzky (KurzeÜbersicht über die Entwicklung der philosophischen Ideen in Japan,Berlin, 1897), is to be preferred.

[3] Professor Milne, Transactions of the Asiatic Society ofJapan, vol. viii. p. 82.

[4] Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. xxv.

[5] Memoirs of the Literary Department of the University ofTôkyô, vol. i.

[6] Die körperlichen Eigenschaften der Japaner, vols. xxviii.and xxxii. of Mittheilungen der Gesellschaft für die Natur- undVölkerkunde Ostasiens.

[7] Cp. Bramsen's Japanese Chronological Tables.

[8] Legge's The Religion of China, p. 137.

[9] Cp. Rhys Davids' Buddhism, p. 144.

[10] Cp. T. Haga's Note on Japanese Schools of Philosophy.T.A.S.J., vol. xx. pt. i. p. 134.

[11] Faber's Doctrines of Confucius, p. 33.

[12] Cp. Dr. P. Carus's Lao-tze Tao-teh-king.

[13] Cp. Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxix.

[14] Cp. Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxix.

[15] E. J. Eitel's Handbook of Chinese Buddhism, p. 49.

[16] Four years later the first temple of this school wasopened in Hakata under the patronship of the Emperor Gotoba.

[17] The first mention in books of a similar mode of deathdates from the latter part of the twelfth century. But it does not seemthat the custom became universal until a considerably later period.

[18] B.H. Chamberlain's Bashô and the Japanese Epigram,T.A.S.J., vol. xxx. pt. ii.

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The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Japanese Spirit, by Okakura-Yoshisaburo. (2024)
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