Unhuman tour : Kusamakura

By Soseki Natsume

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Title: Unhuman tour

Author: Soseki Natsume

Translator: Kazutomo Takahashi

Release date: March 10, 2024 [eBook #73131]

Language: English

Original publication: Japan: The Japan Times, 1927


  Transcriber’s Notes

  Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed into the Public

  Misspelled words have been corrected. These are identified by
  ♦♠♥♣ symbols in the text and are shown immediately below the
  paragraph in which they appear.

  Details and other notes may be found at the end of this eBook.


                        The Japan Times’ Series


                             UNHUMAN TOUR


                            SOSEKI NATSUME

                         [Illustration: logo]



                          KAZUTOMO TAKAHASHI

                            THE JAPAN TIMES


During the eras of Meiji and Taisho (1868–1926) the literary life of
Japan was enriched by a wealth of many notable productions, worthy of a
place in the atheneum of the world; but strange to say, no attempt has,
as yet, been made to embody them into any part of the works forming an
international library. It is true, that some Japanese novels have been
rendered into English, but such ventures have been few and far between,
and in any case, they have been of a fragmentary nature and cannot be
considered as a part of any systematic attempt.

Literature is the mirror of a living age in which is reflected the life
of a people. It is through literature, more than any other medium,
that students of the present and future eras may more readily gain an
insight into the characteristics and life of a people. The publishers
are convinced that the placing before the world, of representative
Japanese writings and fictions, will render an inestimable service
by bringing to it fuller and better understanding of Japan and the

“Masterpieces of the Contemporary Japanese Fiction” comprises a few of
the most representative works of the age, embodying as it does, the
favourite productions of those authors, and which have been rendered
into English as faithfully as it has been within the power of the
translators to do so.

In this present undertaking, the publishers are not actuated by any
other motive but to allow the world to understand, and to see Japan, as
she really is.

                                                     THE PUBLISHERS.

  Tokyo, June, 1927.


KINNOSUKE NATSUME, better known by his pen-name “Soseki,” was one of,
if not, greatest fiction writers, modern Japan has produced. A man of
solid university education unlike many another of the fraternity, he
established a school of his own, in point of originality in style,
and what is more important, in the angle from which he observed human
affairs. More points of difference about him from others were the
complete absence in his case of romantic elements and adversities,
almost always inseparable from the early life of literary geniuses, and
the sudden blazing into fame from obscurity, except as a popular school
teacher and then a university professor, with some partiality for the
“hokku” school of poetry.

Soseki Natsume was born in January, 1867, a third son of an old family
in Kikui-cho, Tokyo. His education after a primary school course took
a deviation, for some years, into the old-fashioned study of Chinese
classics. It was probably then that he laid foundation, perhaps unknown
to himself, of the development of his literary talent, that later
blossomed out so picturesquely; and he was different, also, in this
respect from the later Meiji era writers, who went, many of them,
through a Christian mission school, and were all under the influence of
Western literature.

In 1884, our future novelist entered the Yobimon College, intending
to become an architect; but later changing his mind he took a course
in the Literature Department of Tokyo Imperial University, from which
he graduated in 1892. While in the university, Soseki formed a close
friendship with Shiki Masaoka, which lasted until the latter’s death
separated them in 1904. Shiki Masaoka was the greatest figure in the
revival of hokku poetry in ♦rejuvenated Japan, and Soseki’s association
with him accounts for the novelist’s mastery of that branch of

♦ “rejuvinated” replaced with “rejuvenated”

After finishing his post-graduate course in the university in 1895,
Kinnosuke Natsume taught successively in Matsuyama Middle School in
Iyo, and the Fifth High School in Kumamoto, making no name particularly
for himself except as a bright, promising scholar. He took a wife unto
himself in 1896, and was four years later sent by the Government
to England to study English literature. In three years he returned home
to be appointed Lecturer in Tokyo Imperial University. About this time
his “London Letters” in Shiki Masaoka’s Hokku magazine, the Hototogisu,
began to attract attention; but it was not till the publication of the
first book of maiden work “I Am A Cat”, that he suddenly entered the
temple of fame. That was in 1905.

The “Cat” with its perfect novelty of conception, style, study of human
nature, etc., made him, at once, a star of first magnitude in the
literary firmament, and from that time on, for the next five years, his
productions, long and short, followed in a constant stream, including
“Botchan” (Innocent in Life); “Kusamakura” (Unhuman Tour); “Sanshiro”;
“Kofu” (The Miner); “Hinageshi” (The Corn-poppy) and many others, some,
perhaps many, of which are assured an immortal life.

Soon after his debut as a fiction writer with meteoric brilliance,
Soseki resigned his post at Tokyo Imperial University and also First
High School, and accepted a position in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun
(newspaper) Office as its literary editor. Five years later he was
♦seized with ulceration of the stomach, from which he never really
recovered, and he died in December, 1916.

♦ “siezed” replaced with “seized”

If Soseki’s rise to fame was meteoric, his retention of it was also
meteoric, it lasting only five years, before he bowed to an illness
that sent him to the grave in another five years.

All of Soseki’s writings have a ring distinctly his own and are
pervaded by a vein of thought, which is the happiest combination of
humour born of poetical acumen and well meaning cynicism of the human
heart. Especially is this true of “Kusamakura” or “The Pillow of
Grass,” which is a poetical way in Japanese of speaking of a journey or
tour, and is rendered into “Unhuman Tour” in the present translation,
from its contents rather than its literal meaning.

In “Kusamakura,” Soseki is at his best in giving free play to his
artistic fancies and contempt for conventional worldliness, to
♦visualise a refined Bohemianism, if there be such a thing, by summoning
all his literary skill. How his dissertations on his own dreamy
fancies, occurring frequently in the story, will take with the Western
readers is problematical; but they most fascinatingly appeal to the
Japanese mind, which always takes the highest delight in things that
are presented with philoso-poetical humour. “Kusamakura” was the
most successful of Soseki’s work, second only to “I Am A Cat.”

♦ “visionalise” replaced with “visualise”

It should be added that the present translator is not conceited enough
to think that his English version, which nearly covers the whole
original text of “Kusamakura,” is doing anything like justice to the
master strokes of its creator. He considers himself well repaid for
his labor, if he succeeds in giving an idea of the trend of thought
and atmosphere which Soseki loved to produce and for which he is so
ardently liked by his countrymen.

It is to be added that no attempt has been made at versification in
translating poems of all kind, but to barely transliterate the original.


  Tokyo, June 21, 1927.

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS

          PREFACE                                     i
          CHAPTER I.                                  1
          CHAPTER II.                                19
          CHAPTER III.                               33
          CHAPTER IV.                                55
          CHAPTER V.                                 76
          CHAPTER VI.                                93
          CHAPTER VII.                              111
          CHAPTER VIII.                             121
          CHAPTER IX.                               132
          CHAPTER X.                                146
          CHAPTER XI.                               159
          CHAPTER XII.                              164
          CHAPTER XIII.                             182
          Transcriber’s Notes.

                              CHAPTER I.

Climbing the mountain, I was caught up into a train of thought.

Work with your brains, and you are liable to be harsh. Punt in the
stream of sentiment, and you may be carried away. Pride stiffens you
to discomfort. Heigh-ho, this is a disagreeable world to live in. When
the disagreeableness deepens, you wish to move to a world where life
is less uneasy. It is precisely when you awake to the truth, that move
where you will, it will be hard to live, that poetry is born and art

This human world of ours is the making neither of God nor of the Devil;
but of common mortals; your neighbors on your right; your neighbors
on your left, and your neighbors across the street. Hate you may this
world of common mortals, but where else can you go? If anywhere else,
it must be an unhuman world, but you will find an unhuman world a worse
place to live in than this of humanity. Things being disagreeable in
the world you cannot depart from it, but you must resign yourself
to making the best of disagreeableness, by rubbing off its sharp
corners and relaxing its pinches, to what degree you may, to pass
pleasantly, even for a brief while, this life of so short a span. Here
arises the heaven-ordained mission of the poet and the painter, and
blessed are they, who with their art, make life in this world more rich
and more cheerful.

Picture your hard-to-live-in-world, turned into one of bliss and
thankfulness, with all its disagreeableness taken away, and you have
poetry, a painting, or music, or sculpture. Nor need you produce it
actually; when you fancy you see it before your eyes, poetry springs
into life and songs arise. You hear the ringing of a silver bell within
you, even though you have not written a line of your verse on paper,
and your mind’s eye drinks of the beauties of the rainbow without paint
on the canvas. You attain your end as soon as you soar to the height of
taking this view of the human life you live in and see the soiled and
turbid latter-day world purified and beautified in your soul’s camera
obscura. Thus a poet may not have a single uttered verse and a painter
not a solitary sweep of the brush; but they are happier than a social
lion; than the most fondled child; nay, than a great prince, in that
they can have their own cleansed view of life; in that they can rise
above lust and passions, and live in a world of etherial purity; in
that they can build up a universe where differences all disappear, and
can break away free from the bondage of greed and selfishness.

Twenty years of life taught me that this is a world worth living in;
at twenty-five I saw that light and darkness are but the face and back
of a thing, there being a shadow where the sun shines. My thoughts,
today, at thirty, are these: When full of joys sorrows are as deep, and
the more pain the greater pleasure. Cut sorrows asunder from joys and
I won’t be able to get along. Shall I fling them away? that will make
an end of the world. Money is precious; but anxiety will eat you up,
even in sleep, when it accumulates. Love is sweet; but you will yearn
after the days when you knew it not, so soon as its very sweetness
begins to weigh heavy on you. The shoulders of His Majesty’s Ministers
are supporting the feet of millions and the whole country is weighing
heavily on their backs. You miss nice things when you part with them
without tasting; but you want more of them when you take only a
little of them, while you get sick if you overload yourself....

Here my train of thought broke, as I found myself sitting involuntarily
on a good-sized boulder, my left foot having, in its effort to avert a
peril, caused by a slip of my right foot, landed me in that posture.
Fortunately I was none the worse for the accident, except that my
color-box jerked itself forward from under my arm, which was not much.

As I rose from my forced rest, I saw at a distance, to my right, a peak
of mountain, the very shape of a bucket with its bottom up, covered
from foot to summit by thick dark greens, studded with blossoming
cherries in a dreamy relief, behind a screen of haze. A little nearer
there rose a bare mountain, rising shoulders above the others, with its
flank cut straight down as by a giant’s axe. The foot of its craggy
side sank into a dark abyss. A figure of man wrapped in a red blanket
was coming down from the height and I thought my climb would have to
take me up there. The road was very exasperating. If clay only, it
would not have required such very great labor to negotiate, but there
were boulders, which refused to be smoothed. Clay may be broken, but
not rocks and there they lay determined not to give way. If unyielding
on their part, then they must be passed by going round or else by
surmounting them. The place was not easy to go up even without rocks;
but to make it worse, it made a sharp angle in the centre, the sides of
which rose sharply, so that it was more like walking the bed of a river
than going up a road. However, not being in a particular hurry, I took
time and slowly came up to the “Seven Bends”.

As I trudged upward, my ears suddenly caught a lark, his song coming
up, as it were, from just below my feet. The carol was giddily busy and
incessant, but my eyes saw nothing. That bird never stops and must,
it appears, sing out the whole Spring day and every second of it till
night. I looked down the valley left and right into the air, and up
into the sky, but all in vain, as the unseen singer was heard to rise
higher and higher. I thought the lark must have died in the clouds and
his song only was floating in space. The road made a sharp turn here
by an angular rock. A blind man might have plunged head first down
the crag. But I managed to turn safely. Down in the valley the golden
blossoms of the rape were in full bloom.

But the lark! It was Spring—Spring, when the whole creation feels blasé
to drowsiness; cheerful to ecstacy. The cat forgets to pounce on the
mice. Men become oblivious of being in debt; so oblivious, indeed,
that they even fail to locate their own souls. But they come back to
themselves, when they see a distant field waving with a golden sea of
flowers, such as I was looking down upon in the valley. And they may
locate their souls when they hear the lark. The lark does not sing with
his throat; but it is his whole soul that sings. Of all creatures, of
which you hear their soul’s activity in their songs, none is as lively
as the lark. It was, indeed, joy itself, and as I thus thought, I
became joyful, and thus, was Poetry.

Yes, poetry! Soon I was trying to repeat Shelley’s song of the lark;
but I could recite only these lines:

    “We look before and after
       And pine for what is not
     Our sincerest laughter
       With pain is ♦fraught;
     Our sweetest songs are those that tell of
       saddest thought.”

♦ “frought” replaced with “fraught”

I once more lost myself in a reverie of thought. Happy as the
poet may be, he may not go heart and soul into singing of his joys,
forgetting everything, like the lark. The Chinese poets, to say
nothing of their brothers of the West, sing of “immeasurable bushels
of sorrow”. It may be, with common mortals, that their sorrows are
measured only by the pint not by the bushel. Who can say nay, then,
if the poet soars to the height of joys unreachable by his vulgar
brothers, he has also unfathomable griefs? It is perhaps, well, that
one thinks twice before one decides to become a poet.

My eyes captivated by the golden rape on the left, a coppice hill on
the right and the road under foot running on a smooth level, I stepped
now and again on humble dandelions, crushing them, as I thought, under
my heels; but on looking back regretfully, I found the lowly beauty
nestling, none the worse, in their double-toothed leaves. Easy is the
life of some of God’s creations.

I continued my climb, returning again to my thoughts of reverie.

Sorrow may be inseparable from the poet. But once in an humour, in
which you forget yourself, listening to a lark or gazing at a bed of
golden rape, all gloom and pain disappear. Going along a mountain
path so entranced, dandelions make your heart leap with joy. So do the
blossoming cherries—the cherries had now gone out of sight, by the way.
Up in the mountain, in the bosom of nature, everything that greets you
fills your heart with joy, with not a shadow of misery. If any misery,
it would be no more than that of feeling tired in your feet and of not
having good things to eat.

But how can this be? Nature unrolls herself before you as a piece
of poetry, as a scroll of a picture. Since poetry and a picture, no
thought occurs to you of getting possession of this home of nature, nor
a desire to make a scoup of money by making it accessible by building a
railway. Nothing darkens this scenery, to rob it of its charms, which
help neither to fill your belly, nor add something to your salary, as
long as it gladdens your heart merely as scenery, so long shall you
feel no pain, no weight on you. So great is the power of nature that it
intoxicates you, transports you, in an instant, to the world of poetry.

Love may be beautiful, and so also filial devotion, and noble and
edifying may be loyalty and patriotism. But it will be different
when you are yourself a figure on the stage, a cyclone of conflicting
interests making you too dizzy to appreciate the beautiful or the
noble, but to become entirely lost to the poetry of the thing.

You have to make an onlooker of yourself with room for a sense to
understand, in order that you may see the poetry. Placed in that
position, you will enjoy dramas, and novels will interest you; because
you have got your personal interests packed and put away on the rack.
You are a poet the while you enjoy reading or seeing.

Even at that, common dramas and novels are not free from humanities
of afflictions, anger, quarrels, and weeping, that carry you into
corresponding moods. The only saving feature may be that no sense
of gain and selfishness is acting on your part; but this absence of
personal interest will make your heart-strings the more tense and
active in other respects, and that is what I hate to bear.

I have come through my thirty years enough, indeed more than enough,
of wallowing in the mud of troubles, of fuming in anger; of being in
rows; or of sinking in sorrows; all which are indivorcible from human
life. I want poetry that lifts me above the dust and noise of
the world. I know, of course, there can be no drama, however great a
masterpiece, that is absolutely transcendental of human sentiment, or
scarcely a novel that can rise completely above all sense of right and
wrong, this being especially the case with Western poetry of which the
stock ♦paraphernalia are Sympathy, Love, Justice, Freedom, and so forth,
the staple goods in the bazaar of human life. It is no wonder that the
lark made Shelly heave a deep sigh. To my joy, poets of the Orient can,
some of them, soar above this earthly atmosphere. Let Tao Yuan-ming of
ancient China recite his lines:

    “Chrysanthemum I pick from the Eastern hedge,
       On the Southern hill leisurely I cast my eyes.”

♦ “paraphenalias” replaced with “paraphernalia”

Not that there is a charming one on the other side of the hedge, nor
a dear friend on the hill; but the two lines take you with Tao into
a sphere beyond the reach of the worries and cares of the world. Or
listen to Wang Wei of the same land:

    “Softly I harp and sing alone,
       In the quietude of wooded bamboo;
     Not a soul into deep solitude, but the
       Tell-tale moon comes, and speaks its heart.”

A world looms up from the four verses, the charm of which is not that
of popular novels, but a good you feel from a sound and all-forgetting
sleep you have had, after being thoroughly tired of steamers, railways,
rights and duties, morals and formalities. Sleep? Yes, and if sleep
be necessary even in the Twentieth century, equally indispensable
to the Twentieth century is this super-earthly poetical sentiment.
Unfortunately poetry makers and poetry readers are nowadays all
enamoured of the Westerners, and none seem to care to take a boat and
float to the land of the immortals. I am not a poet by profession, and
am interested in no way whatever in spreading propaganda for the kind
of life led by Wang Wei and Tao Yuan-ming, in the present world. Only
to me it appears that such inspired feelings as are sung by the Chinese
poets are more powerful in remedying the ills and evils of the day
than theatricals and dancing parties. They are, at all events far more
agreeable to me than Faust or Hamlet. I come into the mountain with a
colour-box and a ♦tripod for my sole companions, all because I yearn to
drink direct from nature of the poetical wine of Tao Yuan-ming and
Wang Wei; to be away from the world-smelling and world-sounding world,
nay, to ♠breathe and live in an unhuman atmosphere, even for a brief
while. It is a weakness of mine if you like to call it so.

  ♦ “triped” replaced with “tripod”
  ♠ “breath” replaced with “breathe”

I am at any rate, a living block of humanity, and however fond I may be
of unhumanity, my love of it cannot go so very far. I do not suppose
that even Tao Yuan-ming had his eye on the Southern hill, year in and
year out; nor is it imaginable that Wang Wei slept in his bamboo jungle
without a mosquito net. In all likelihood Tao sold his chrysanthemums
to a florist after keeping what he wanted, and Wang his bamboo sprouts
to a green grocer. I myself am not unhuman enough to live under the
blue sky in the mountain, just because the lark and golden rape
captivate my fancy. Such as the place is, human beings are not a
rarity,—men with their heads wrapped in a towel and their kimono tucked
up at the back; country lasses in red skirts and so on, and sometimes
also even long faced horses. Breathing the mountain air, hundreds of
feet above the sea level, surrounded by a million cypresses, I could
not still be rid of human smell. Nay, I was crossing the mountain to
reach the hot spring hotel of Nakoi as my destination for the night.

However, things assume shapes or colour as you will, according to the
way you look at them. In the words of Leonardo Da Vinci to a pupil of
his “the bell is one; but listen, and its sound may be heard in all
sorts of ways.” Opinions may differ in a man or a woman, all depending
upon how you look at him or her. I had come out in my present tour to
indulge in unhumanity and people would appear different from what they
did when I was living round the corner in the crowded Mud-and-Dust
Lane, if I looked at them now, I thought, bearing in mind my unhumanity
idea. Impossible as entirely getting away from humanity may be, I
should be able to bring myself up or down to suit the frame of mind,
in which one finds oneself at a “Noh”(1) play. The “Noh” has its
humanity or sentimental side. Who can be sure not to be moved to tears
by the Shichikiochi or by the Sumidagawa? But the “Noh” performance is
seven-tenth art and three-tenth sentiment. The attractions of “Noh” do
not come from the life-like presentation of things human in this
mundane world; because the life-like in it appears only from under
many, many layers of art, which give it an air of extreme tranquility
and halcyon serenity, never to be met in the world of reality.

Note—♦Bracketed numerals and alphabet letters at the end of words
refer to notes at the end of the book, explaining Japanese terms and

♦ “Bracketted” replaced with “Bracketed”

How would it do to interpret all the events and people I came across
in the present tour as part of performances on the “Noh” stage? I
could not cast aside humanity altogether. To be poetical at the bottom
of my whole venture, I should like to let unhumanity carry me into a
“Noh” atmosphere, by doing away with humanity as much as possible.
Different in nature from the “Southern hill” or the “bamboo grove,”
nor identifiable with the lark or blossoming rapes, I still would see
people from a point of view as near those objects as possible. The
man Basho(2) saw something poetical and made a “hokku”(3) even of a
horse stalling near his head! I would deal with everybody I was going
to meet—farmers, tradesmen, the village office clerk, old men, old
women—seeing in them only objects, complementing a picture. However
unlike figures on the canvas, they would move as they please. It
would be grossly common, however, to enquire, as does an ordinary
novelist, into the cause of each of them going his own way, to dig
into their mental state, or to try to solve the tangle of their human
affairs. I shall not care, move as they will. They won’t trouble me,
as I shall regard them as characters in a picture in motion. Painted
figures cannot get out of the plane of the picture, no matter how
they may move. Troubles would arise of conflicting views and clash of
interests, the moment you think, the characters might jump out of the
plane and act cubically. The more troublesome the matter grew, the
more impossible it would become to look at it ♦æsthetically. Wherever
I might go and whomever I might meet, I should look at them as from
a transcendental height, so that human-magnetism might not easily
pass between us, and I shall, then, be not easily affected, however
animatedly they might act. In short I am to assume the position of one
standing before a picture, and looking at the figures in it, running
hither and thither on its plane. With three feet between, you can
calmly look on, without any sense of danger. In other words, you run no
risk of anybody snatching away your weapon and you may give yourself up
altogether to studying their doings from an artistic point of view.
With undivided attention you may see and judge the objects before you
as beautiful or as not beautiful.

♦ “æthetically” replaced with “æsthetically”

By the time I had come to this decision, the sky began to assume a
doubtful aspect. A bank of clouds of indistinct foreboding had no
sooner mounted overhead than it went tumbling and overspreading until
the whole space seemed to turn into a hanging expanse of dark sea. From
the sea soft Spring rain began to fall. I had long since gone past the
golden rape blossoms and was now toiling along between two mountains;
but the threads of rain being so fine as to appear as mist, I could
not tell how distant they were. Now and again, as the gusts of wind
blew asunder the high drapery of cloud, a grey ridge of mountain showed
itself to the right as clearly as within reach of a hand: probably the
range ran on the other side of the valley. The left side seemed to be
the foot of another mountain. Back of the semi-transparent screen of
rain, trees—they might be pines—appeared and then disappeared, with an
endless frequency. Was it the rain that was moving? Or was it the trees
in motion? Could it be that I was dreaming a floating dream? I
trudged on, feeling strange.

The road became wider than I had imagined, and quite level also.
Walking was no longer a task; but being not prepared for rain, I had to

About the time the rain-water began to fall in drops from my hat, I
heard a jingle, jingle of a bell some yards away, and there appeared a
pack-horse driver leading an animal behind him.

“Hello, any place to stop around here, man?”

“A mile more or so, you will come upon a tea stall. Getting pretty wet,

A mile more! The figure of the rustic dissolved into rain like a magic
lantern view, as I looked back.

The misty rain had now become thick and long until each drop could be
seen distinctly like a pencil flying in the wind. It had long since
soaked through my outer garment, and then penetrated to the skin.
The heat of my body made lukewarm the water in my under-wear and the
feeling produced was by no means the most pleasant. I pulled my hat to
one side and quickened my pace.

The drenching figure of myself, running through a grey expanse of
space, with innumerable silver shafts beating at it slantingly
will make poetry, an ode, when I look at it as not my own. I make a
beautiful harmony with a natural scenery, as a figure in a picture,
when I forget my material self completely and take a purely objective
view of myself. Only, I cease to be a figure in poetry, or in a
picture, the moment I feel vexed with the falling rain and take to
heart the tiredness of the stamp, stamp of my feet. I then find myself
only an indifferent individual of the street, blind to the changing
humour of the flying clouds; untouched by the falling flowers, and the
carols of birds; nay, a perfect stranger to the beauty of my own self
going alone and quietly through a mountain in Spring. I walked first
with my hat pulled to one side; but later I kept my eyes pivoted on the
back of my feet. Finally I went gingerly, shrugging my shoulders. The
rain shook the tree tops all round, and closed in from all sides upon
a lonely traveller. I felt I was having rather too strong a dose of

                              CHAPTER II.

“Are you there?” I said, but no response came.

I was standing before the humblest shop, which had at its rear papered
sliding screens, shutting from view a room behind. A bunch of ♦straw
sandals for sale was hanging from the eve, swinging ♠forlornly. Under
a low counter were a few trays of cheap sweets, with some small coins
lying about.

  ♦ “straw-sandals” replaced with “straw sandals”
  ♠ “forelornly” replaced with “forlornly”

“Are you there?” I said again. The ejaculation startled, this time, a
hen and her lord, which awoke ♦clucking on a mortar, on which they had
been standing bulged and asleep. I was glad to find fire going in a
clay furnace, part of which had its colour changed by the rain that had
been falling a minute ago. A tea-kettle was hanging from a suspender
over the furnace. It was black with smoke, too black, indeed, to tell
whether it was earthen or silver.

  ♦ “chucking” replaced with “clucking”

Receiving no answer, I took the liberty of walking into the shop and
sitting on a bench before the fire, and this made the fowls flap their
wings and hop from the mortar onto the raised and matted floor and
they would have gone through the inner room had it not been for the
screens. The birds clucked and cackled in alarm as if they thought I
were a fox or a cur.

Presently footsteps were heard, a paper screen slid open, and out came
an old woman, as I knew somebody would, with a fire going, and money
lying scattered about. This was somewhat different from the city, that
a woman could, with no concern, be away, leaving her shop to take care
of itself and it was at any rate, unlike the twentieth century, that I
could go into the shop and sit on a bench uninvited to wait, wait and
wait. All this “unhuman” condition of things delighted me immensely.
What charmed me most was, however, the look of the aged shop-keeper who
had come out.

I discovered in her, living, the aged, masked dame of Takasago whom I
saw at the Hosho “Noh” theatre, two or three years ago. I snapped that
dame’s image into my mind’s camera at the time as most fascinating,
wondering how an old woman could look so gentle and reverentially
attractive. I say, I saw in flesh and blood this “Noh” figure in the
lowly shop-keeper bowing before me. In response to my apologetic remark
that I had taken possession of her bench in her absence, she said
very civilly:

“I did not know that you had come in, Danna-sama.”(4)

“Had been raining rather hard?”

“Bad weather, Danna-sama, you must have had a hard time of it. Why
you are drenching wet. Wait, I will make a big fire and let you dry

“Thank you. Put just a little more wood there, and I shall warm and dry
myself. The rest has made me feel cold.”

We kept on talking about the quietness of the place, the uguisu,(5)
and so on. Out came my sketch book, and I made a hasty picture of the
old woman, as she worked at the fire. The rain had stopped, and the
sky cleared up. I saw the “Hobgoblin Cliff” by turning my eyes in the
direction towards which my good woman pointed. I glanced at the cliff
and then at the woman, and last of all I looked at them both half
and half. Of the impressions of old women carved permanently in my
head, there were that of the face of the Takasago dame of the “Noh”
mask, and that of the she-spirit of the mountain drawn by Rosetsu.
The Rosetsu picture has made me think that an ideal old woman is
a weird creature and that she should be seen only among autumn tinted
trees or else in cold moonlight. But on seeing the mask of the Takasago
dame I was astonished at the extent to which the aged of the other
sex could be made to look so sweet. I have since thought she could,
with her warm and graceful expression, ornament a golden screen, be a
figure in a balmy Spring breeze or that she could go well, even with
cherry blossoms. As I looked at my homely dressed hostess of motherly
kindness, with a beaming light on her face, I fancied she made a
picture better in keeping with the Spring scenery of the mountain, than
with the “Hobgoblin Cliff,” she was pointing at, with one hand shading
her eyes. I had almost finished sketching her when her pose broke. It
was disconcerting, and with chagrin I held my book to the fire to dry.

“You look hale and hearty, O-Bahsan.”(6)

“Yes, thank you, Danna-sama. I can sew; I can spin hemp.”

She added triumphantly, “I can grind rice for dumpling flour!” I felt I
would like to see her work at the mill stones. However such a request
was out of place, and I changed the topic of conversation by asking
her if it was not more than two and a half miles to Nakoi.

“No, Danna-sama, about two miles they say. You are going to the hot
spring there, then?”

“I may stop there a while, if the place is not crowded. Or rather I
should say if I am in the mood.”

“No crowding, I am sure, Danna-sama. The place has been almost deserted
since the war (Russo-Japanese) broke out. The spa hostelry is all but

“Well, well. They ♦won’t let me stop there then.”

  ♦ “wont” replaced with “won’t”

“Oh, yes, they will any time, Danna-sama, if you just ask them.”

“There is only one hotel there; isn’t that so?”

“Yes, Danna-sama, ask for Shiota and anybody will tell you. Squire
Shiota is a rich man of the village and one doesn’t know to call the
place which, a hot-spring resort or the old gentleman’s pleasure

“Is that so? Guest or no guest makes no difference to him then?”

“Danna-sama is going there for the first time?”

“No, not quite. I was there once long ago.”

There came a temporary lull in our conversation, here, as if by
mutual agreement. In the silence that followed, I once more took out my
sketch book and began to make a picture of the rooster and his mate,
when the jingling of bells caught my ear, the sound making a music of
its own in my head. I felt as if I were listening, in a dream, to a
mortar-and-pestle rhythm coming from a neighbour’s. I stopped sketching
and wrote down instead:

    “Harukazeya Inen-ga mimini(7)
       Umano Suzu.”(n)

Coming up the mountain, I passed five or six pack horses and found
them all wearing aprons between their fore and hind legs, with
bells jingling about their necks. I could not help imagining I was
encountering in spirit ghosts long past. Presently there rose above the
jingling of bells a quaintly long drawn note of mago-uta(8), floating
dreamily in the peaceful Spring air of the mountain, and gradually
coming upward. This made my rustic but gentle hostess say, as if
speaking to herself: “Somebody is coming again.”

Every passer, coming and going seemed to be the good woman’s
acquaintance, since the pass lay in a single line, and all traffic
must go by the humble tea-stall. All of the half-dozen drivers of
pack-horses, I met on the road, must have come up or gone down the
mountain, everyone of them making her think somebody was coming. I
could not help wondering how often, indeed, times out of number, her
ears must have caught the jingling of bells in the years past, that had
turned her hair so completely grey. Oh, how long she must have lived
in this little place with its lonely road, where spring had come and
gone, gone and come, with no ground to walk on, lest one crushed little
flowers under foot! I wrote down another “haiku” in my book:

    “Mago-utaya Shiragamo
       Somede Kururu Haru”(o)

The little verse did not quite express my poetical fancy, and I was
gazing at the point of my pencil to compress into seventeen ♦syllables
the ideas of grey hair, and the cycles of years as well as the quaint
tunes of a country pack-horse driver, and departing Spring, when a live
bucolic individual, leading a ♠pony, halted before the shop and greeted
the old woman:

“Good day, Obasan!”(9)

  ♦ “sylables” replaced with “syllables”
  ♠ “poney” replaced with “pony”

“Why, it is you Gen-san. You are going down to the town?”

“I am, and shall be glad to get, if there be anything you want down

“Let me see. Stop at my daughter’s, if you happen to go along Kajicho,
and ask her to get for me a holy tablet of the Reiganji temple.”

“All right, only one, eh? Your O-Aki-san(10) is very lucky that she has
been so well married, don’t you think so, Obasan?”

“I am thankful that she is not in want of daily needs. Maybe she is

“Of course she is. Look at that Jo-sama(11) of Nakoi!”

“Poor O-Jo-sama, my heart aches for her and she is so beautiful. Is she
any better these days?”

“No, the same as ever.”

“Too bad,” sighs mine hostess, and “Yes, too bad” assents Gen-san,
patting his horse on the head. A gust of wind came just then and shook
a cherry tree outside and the rain-drops lodging precariously among its
leaves and flowers shed like a fresh shower, making the horse toss his
long mane up and down with a start. I had by this time fallen into a
train of fancy from which I was awakened by Gen-san’s “Whoa” and the
jingling of the horse’s bells, to hear the Obasan say:

“Ah, I still see before me the Jo-sama in her bridal dress with her
hair done up in a high ‘Shimada’ style and going horse-back....”

“Yes, yes, she went on horse-back, not by boat. We stopped here, didn’t
we, Obasan?”

“Aye, when the Jo-sama’s horse stopped under that cherry tree, a
falling petal alighted on her hair, dressed so carefully.”

The old woman’s word-sketch was fascinating, well worthy of a picture;
of poetry. A vision of a charming bride came before my mind’s eye, and
musing on the scene described, I wrote down in my sketch book:

    “Hanano Koro-o Koete
       Kashikoshi Umani Yome.”♦(p)(12)

  ♦ missing footnote tag added “(p)”

I had a clear vision of the girl’s hair and dress, the horse and the
cherry tree; but strangely enough, her face would not come to me,
eagerly as my fancy travelled from one type to another. Suddenly
Millais’ Ophelia came into the vision under the bride’s “shimada”
coiffure. No good, I thought and let my vision crumble away. The
same moment the bridal dress, hair, horse, and cherry tree and all
disappeared from my mind’s setting; but Ophelia floating above the
water with her hands clasped, remained behind mistily in my mind,
lingering with a faintness, as of a cloud of smoke brushed with a palm
fibre whisk, and producing a weird sensation as when looking at the
fading tail of a shooting star.

“Well, goodbye Obasan.”

“Come again on your way back. Bad time we had with the rain. The road
must be pretty bad about the ‘Seven Bends’.”

Gen-san began to move and his horse to trot as he said: “rather a job,”
leaving behind the jingling of bells.

“Was that man from Nakoi?”

“Yes, he is Gembei of Nakoi.”

“Do I understand that that man crossed this mountain with a bride on
the back of his horse, some time or other?”

“He passed here with the Jo-sama of Nakoi on the back of his horse,
when the lady-bird went to her future husband’s house.—Time goes fast;
it was five years ago.”

She is of a happy order, who laments the turning white of her hair only
when she looks into the glass. Nearer an immortal, I thought, was my
old woman who became conscious of the swiftness of fleeting time only
by counting five years on her fingers. I observed to her:

“She must have been charming.—I wish I was here to see her.”

“Haw, haw, but you may see her. She will come out, I am sure, to
receive you, if you put up at the hot-spring hotel of Nakoi.”

“Why, then, is she back in her father’s house, now? I wonder if I could
see her in her bridal dress, with her hair done up in the shimada.”

“Only ask her; she will most likely oblige you by appearing in the
dress of her bridal tour.”

Impossible! I thought, but my bah-san(13) was quite in earnest. After
all, my “unhuman” tour would be insipid, if it were all common-place
with no such characters. My good woman went on:

“There is so much alike between the Jo-sama and Nagarano Otome.”

“You mean in their looks?”

“No, I mean in their life.”

“But who is this Nagarano Otome?”

“Long, long ago, there was the maid of Nagara, the beautiful daughter
of a rich man, and the pride of this village.”


“Well, Danna-sama, two men, Sasada-otoko and Sasabe-otoko fell in
love with her both at once.”

“I see.”

“Shall she accept the hand of the Sasada man or should give her heart
to the Sasabe man? She tormented herself for days, weeks, and months,
with the perplexing problem, until unable to allow herself the choice
of one in preference to the other, she ended her life by throwing
herself into a river, leaving behind her an ode:

    “Akizukeba Obanaga Uyeni
    Kenubekumo Wawa

I had little expected to hear such a quaint romance told in such
old-fashioned language, least of all from such an old woman in the
depth of a mountain like this.

“You go down about 600 yards East from here Danna-sama and you will
come upon the ‘five elements’ spiral tombstone on the roadside, that
marks the eternal home of Nagarano Otome. You should pay a visit to the
grave, on your way to Nakoi.”

I resolved by all means to see the grave. The Bahsan went on to tell me:

“The Jo-sama of Nakoi had, in her evil days, her hand sought by two
suitors. One of them was a young man she met while she was at school in
Kyoto, and the other a son of the wealthiest man in the castled town.”

“So? Which did she choose?”

“The Jo-sama herself would have had her lover in Kyoto if she could
make her own choice; but her father forced her to accept the young man
of the castled-town.”

“That is to say, she fortunately escaped drowning herself in the river?”

“To her young husband she was as dear as his own life, and he did all
he could to please her; but she was not happy to the worry of all. Soon
after the present war had broken out her husband lost his job, the bank
where he was working closing its doors, while the same cause wrought
the ruin of his own family. This made the Jo-sama come back to her
father’s house in Nakoi, and gossip has been busy making a heartless
and ungrateful woman of her. As a girl, the Jo-sama was always coy and
gentle; but she has latterly been changing into a woman of unwomanly
high spirits. So says Gembey every time he passes here, as he feels
really sorry for her.”

I did not want to hear more, to have my fancies spoiled. The woman’s
story was beginning to smell of human ills and worries and I felt as
if somebody was wanting back the fairy wand, when I was just becoming
celestial. It cost me uncommon pains to negotiate the perils of the
“Seven Bends,” and reach here. All that and the very reason of my
wandering out of my house would have been lost, if I were now to be so
recklessly brought back to the every-day world. This and that of life
are all very well up to a certain point; but past that limit it brings
a worldly odor that enters you through the pores of the skin and makes
you feel heavy with dirt. So I started to go, with this departing word,
after depositing a silver piece on the bench: “The road is straight to
Nakoi, is it not Obahsan?”

“Turn right, down the slope from the tomb of Nagarano Otome and you
will make a saving of some half a mile. The road is not very good; but
a young gentleman like you would make a short cut.... God bless you for
such generosity. Take good care of yourself, Danna-sama.”

                             CHAPTER III.

I had a queer time of it last night.

About 8 o’clock I reached the hotel. It had already closed up for the
night, and was but dimly lighted. I could not, of course, tell, then,
the plan of the house or the lay-out of its garden, to say nothing of
its bearing on the points of the compass. I was led by the nose, as it
were, through a long, long winding sort of passage, at the end of which
I was put in a small room of about six mats. I could not at all tell
where I was; the place had so completely changed since I was here last.
After supper, and then a dip in the hot spring bath, I was sipping tea
in my room, when a young girl came in, and asked me if she should make
my bed.

What struck me as not a little strange was that it was the same girl
who had come out to let me in when I arrived; it was this same girl
who had brought me supper and waited on me; it was this same girl who
had showed me to the bath room; and it was again this same girl who
took upon herself the trouble of making the bed for me. This little
woman seemed to have everything on her shoulders in this establishment;
and yet she seldom spoke a word. I would have done her injustice,
however, if I said she was country-looking. When she went before me,
with her girlish crimson “obi”(14) tied unsentimentally on her back,
and with an old-fashioned burning candle in her hand, taking me round
and round along a corridor-like and stairway-like passages, when she
with the same crimson “obi” and the same candle-stick, led me down
places, of which it was difficult to say whether they were corridors or
staircases, down to the bath tank, I felt as if I were myself a figure
in a picture moving in a world of canvas.

  ♦ “corriders” replaced with “corridors”

When she waited on me at supper, she begged me to put up with the room
I was in, which was, she said, one of family use, as the other rooms
were undusted, no guests coming these days. When she finished making my
bed she spoke humanly, wishing me “a good night of rest”, before she
left my room. My ears followed her footsteps along the long wriggling
sort of passage until they finally died out far away. Then stillness
fell and the whole place seemed to have become deserted by all things

Only once before in all my life, I went through an experience
like this. Long ago I crossed Boshu from Tateyama to the Pacific sea
coast, and went on foot from Kazusa to Choshi along the sea shore. On
the way I stopped overnight at a place. At a place, and I cannot say
less vaguely as the name of the locality and of the inn where I lodged
had both long since been forgotten. It is not even clear that it was
really an inn where I passed the night. The house was very large but
inhabited by only two women. I asked them if they would let me stop
overnight. The older of the two said “yes” and the younger said: “This
way please.” I followed the latter past many spacious but deserted and
neglected rooms, and was finally shown up the innermost semi-two-storey
flat. I mounted three staircases and was about to enter my room, when a
gust of evening wind made a bunch of bamboos, growing bendingly under
the eve, rustle against my head and shoulders, somehow chilling me to
the bones. The wooden flooring of the verandah, I stepped upon, was
almost crumbling with age. I remarked, then, the sprouts would pierce
through the flooring and take possession of the room next spring. The
young woman said nothing but went away grinning.

That night, the rustling of bamboos robbed me of all my sleep. I slid
open the front paper screen and found myself looking over, in the
clear Summer moonlight, a grass-grown garden, which had no boundary
hedge or fence, but stretched into a weedy elevation, beyond which the
great ocean roared with its tumbling breakers, menacing the world of
man. I passed the whole night nervously awake, imprisoning myself in
an apology of a mosquito net. My lot that night might be, I thought, a
page from some weird story book.

  ♦ “slided” replaced with “slid”

I had never since felt as I did then, until my first night at Nakoi.

I was lying on my back in my bed, and my eyes accidentally caught
sight of some Chinese writing mounted in a vermilion frame, hung high
up a wall. It consisted of seven big characters which said: “Shadow
of bamboos sweeping no dust rises.” It was signed “Daitetsu.” Then my
fancy travelled for a while into the realm of autographs. A Jakuchu in
the picture hanging niche next entered my eyes. It was a picture of a
crane standing on one foot, a production of a bold sweep of brush, that
pleased me marvellously. In a little while I fell asleep and was
soon lost in dreamland.

The Maiden of Nagara appeared before me, in a long-sleeved bridal
gown, crossing a mountain on a pony. The Sasabe Otoko and the Sasada
Otoko suddenly slipped into the scene, and began struggling to carry
away the maiden. Thereupon the girl changed as suddenly into Ophelia,
mounting a branch of willow tree, and then floating down a stream. She
was singing sweetly. Eager to rescue her, I reached a long pole and ran
along Mukojima with it. She showed no sign of struggle, but was smiling
and singing as the tide carried her down, down to where I knew not. I
hallooed and hallooed to her, with the pole on my shoulder.

My hallooing awoke me. I was wet with perspiration. What a curious
mixture of the poetical and vulgar, I thought. Priest Ta Hui in the
Sung days of China, who claimed to be able to have everything his way
after he had attained his Buddhistic emancipation, complained that he
was nevertheless vulnerable to unworthy thoughts that cropped up in his
dreams. He is said to have suffered long and greatly from this failing.
I thought that was quite natural. It would do little credit to any
one making art one’s life to dream a not more beautiful dream. One such
as I dreamed would in greater part make neither a picture nor poetry
worthy of the name. Thinking thus, I turned my body over in bed and saw
the moon shining on the paper screen, casting on it the shadow of some
branches of tree. The night looked almost bright.

Possibly just a fancy; but I thought I heard some one singing or rather
chanting softly. I pricked my ears to know if it was a song that had
escaped from dreamland into this world of reality, or a real voice
flowing into dreams? I was sure there was some one singing. The voice
was indisputably thin and low; but faint as it was, it was pulsating
the Spring night, which was on the verge of sleep. The weird part of it
was that, whatever its tune, its wording, of which there was no reason
that it could be heard clearly, being not uttered near me, nevertheless
came distinctly, the sinking voice repeating over and over the song of
Nagarano Otome: “Even like the dew drop, that when autumn comes, lodges
on grass leaves, must I roll off to die.”

The chanting sounded first near the verandah; but it gradually grew
fainter and farther. What ceases suddenly produces a feeling of
suddenness; but it leaves little room for sentiment. A voice that
speaks peremptorily resolution rouses also a feeling of peremptoriness
and resolution in others. But confronted by a phenomenon that had
no definite limit but went on thinning and thinning until it would
imperceptibly disappear altogether, you could not help feeling that
you must mince up the minute and split the second, your sense of
helplessness and hopelessness momentarily deepening. The chant sounded
dying like a dying man, becoming more and more feeble like an outgoing
light; and in that song that distracted the heart as if with the
approaching end, there was a tune that spoke for all the sorrows of the
Spring of the whole world.

I listened to the song, holding myself down in the bed; but as it went
farther and farther, I felt, I must chase it, despite the consciousness
that it was luring me out by the ear. The thinner it grew the more I
felt that I should let my ear only fly after it. Just at the moment I
thought, however hard I might listen, my ears would hear no more, I
could constrain myself no longer and unconsciously I slipped out of my
bed. The same moment I opened the “shoji,”(15) and stood out in the
verandah, with the lower half of my body bathing in the moonlight and a
tree throwing its waving shadow on my night clothes. These details did
not occur to me, however, at the instant I opened the “shoji.”

But that dying sound? I looked in the direction toward which my ear was
running. There I espied a shadowy form in the moonlight as it were,
with its back to a tree, which, if in bloom, might be an aronia. The
misty dark thing flanked right, stepping on the shadow of blossoms on
the ground, even before it had left on me a clear impression that “it
must be it.” A corner of the roof, thrown on the ground, of a room
adjoining mine, seemed to move lithely, and the next moment shut out
from view a tall figure of a woman.

I was lost to myself for many moments, as I stood thinly clad in my
night gown, with my hand on the screen. The minute I returned to
myself, I was made keenly conscious that a night of Spring in the
mountain was decidedly chilly. As it was, I did not hesitate to permit
myself to creep back into the bed from which I had crept out, and
started on another train of thought. I took out my watch from under
the pillow and found it pointing at ten past one. I put the watch
back under the pillow, and returned to my thoughts. “It cannot be a
spook,” I thought. If not an apparition, it must be a human being, and
if a human being, it must be a woman. She might have been the O-Jo-san
of this house. If so, it seemed rather defying propriety that a young
woman, who had taken a divorce of her husband should, at that hour
of night, be out in the garden, that ran into the mountain. In any
case, sleep had become impossible, that watch of mine under the pillow
ticking me to irrepressible wakefulness. The tiny ticking of my watch
had never before troubled me; but on this particular night it seemed
to say “No sleep for you to-night, but think, think, think.” It was
outrageously extraordinary.

A frightful thing will make poetry when you regard it merely as the
form itself of frightfulness; just as a weird eerie sight may be
worked into a picture, if you treat it as something horrid in itself,
independent of you. Likewise a disappointed love makes an excellent
theme of art when gentleness, sympathy, worries and, indeed, even the
very overflow of pains, it occasions, are turned objectively into
visions before you, divorced from the actual torments felt in your
heart. Nay, some people imagine that they are disappointed in love in
order to enjoy the pleasure of agonising themselves. Ordinary mortals
laugh at them as idiotic, as lunatic; but they are no more unbalanced,
from the point of view of having their own artistic ground to stand on,
than those who go into the ecstacy of living in a world of their own by
creating scenery that nowhere exists.

Looked at in this light, artists as such are, compared with common
people, idiots, lunatics—whatever be their qualification in their daily
life. When by themselves they never cease complaining, from morn till
night, of the hardships of their pedestrian journeys in search of fit
subjects for their canvas or for their pen. But they betray not even a
shadow of grievance when they tell others of their experiences. They
not only narrate gleefully the things they enjoyed and were delighted
with, but are enthusiastic over events that once tortured them but now
come back as sweet memories. Not that they mean to deceive themselves
and others; but the truth is that when out on the road they see and
feel as ordinary mortals do, but they become poets when they talk
of their past. And this accounts for their inconsistencies. He may be
called an artist, then, who lives in a triangle, built by knocking off
a corner called common-sense of the four-angled world.

Be it in nature or in the world of man, artists thus discover countless
gems and stones of inestimable value, in places which the multitude
dare not approach. The secret of such a discovery is commonly called
beautifying. But in reality there is no beautification about it at all,
light and colour having in their brilliancy always existed in this
mundane world; but because flowers fall from the sky in vain for common
eyes; because worldly trammels are unshakable; because the thought of
success and prosperity hang so heavy on the human mind, nobody has been
able to see the beauties of a railway train till Turner showed them,
and the world waited for Ohkyo to be shown the æsthetics of a ghost.

The shadow I had just seen had, as a phenomenon complete in itself
and nothing more, something poetical about it that none could deny
who saw or heard it. A sequestered spa in the bosom of a mountain—the
shadow of flowers in a Spring night—The soft warbling of a song under
a tell-tale moon—a dreamy figure in pale moonlight—every one of
them would have made a capital subject for an artist. For all that, I
was trying unnecessarily to see what might be behind the vision, and a
blood-chilling sensation that had taken possession of me blinded me to
the elegance of the situation, which was perfectly consistent in itself
and the picturesqueness that could not be hoped for. I thought myself
unworthy of my professed unhumanity and felt I must go through more
training before I could proclaim myself a poet or an artist. Salvator
Rosa of Italy came vividly before my eyes with his perilous tale of
joining the ♦banditti of the Abruzzi. I had wandered away from my home
with just a sketch book, and I should be ashamed of myself, if I had
not Rosa’s resolve.

  ♦ “banditi” replaced with “banditti”

How should I rehabilitate myself as a poet in such circumstances?
All that is necessary is, I argued to myself, I may put myself in a
condition that would enable me to take hold of my feelings, lay them
before me, stand a step behind, and examine them calmly unprejudicedly
as if I were another person, not myself. The poet is under an
obligation, when he dies, to dissect his own body and publish the cause
of his malady. There may be various ways of doing this; but the
easiest and nearest is to make an instantaneous survey of everything
you can lay your hand on, and reduce it into a seventeen syllable
“hokku”. The seventeen syllable effusion is the simplest of poems, and
you can have it, when you are washing your face in the morning, or
when you are going in a tram car. It makes a poet of you most simply
and most easily. To be a poet is to be enlightened, and I mean no
disparagement, when I say, it is the simplest and easiest. The simpler
the more beneficial it is, and should the more be respected. Suppose
you lose your temper. You make a seventeen syllable “hokku” of your
indignation. The moment seventeen c get into shape, your anger
becomes something outside of you—you cannot be fuming with anger and
composing a “hokku” at the same time. You are moved to tears; you make
seventeen syllables, and they delight you. When your tears are changed
into seventeen syllables, your tearful anguish has left you, and you
have become a self only joyous of being a man capable of weeping.

This has always been the stand I insisted upon, and I now wanted to put
it to a practical test. Lying abed, I set about making a series
of seventeen syllables of the events of the night. A very deliberate
enterprise as I was undertaking, I lay open my sketch-book near the
pillow, to jot down in it as fast as I got the lines, lest they might
become lost as fugitive thoughts, hard to recapture.

“Kaidono tsuyuo furu-u-ya monogurui,”(a) I wrote down as my first
production. If the reading of it did not strike me as particularly
captivating, neither did it give rise to any uncomfortably creepy
feeling. I next jotted down: “Hanano kage, onnano kageno oborokana.”(b)
It was faulty with a redundancy. I forgave myself for it; because all
I wanted was to recover calmness and humour myself into an easy frame
of mind. For the third piece, I ventured: “Shoichi-i onnani bakete
oborozuki.”(c) It sounded droll and amused me.

All was right at this rate, I thought, and getting into the spirit of
the thing, I scribbled down all that follow, one after another:

    “Haruno hoshio otoshite
       Yowano kazashikana.(d)
     Haruno yono kumoni
       Nurasuya araigami.(e)
     Haruya koyoi
       Uta tsukamatsuru onsugata.(f)
     Kaido no seiga
       Detekuru tsukiyokana.(g)
     Uta oriori gekkano
       Haruo ochikochisu.(h)
    Omoi kitte fukeyuku
       Haruno hitorikana.”(i)

Sleep was stealing over me by the time I had finished committing the
last piece to the sketch-book.

I was half asleep and half awake, in a condition, to describe which
was invented, I thought, the expression “as in a trance.” Nobody is
conscious of self in a sound sleep; but in wakefulness the world
outside is never forgotten. Between the two regions lies the borderland
of vision, where things look too misty to be called awake, and yet too
animate to be in sleep. It is a condition in which “up awake” and “lie
asleep” are put in one and the same cup and stirred and mixed up with
the straw of poetry and song. Shade off the colours of nature into
all but a dream, push this universe of reality adrift into the sea
of haze, and smooth into curves all sharp angles with the magic hand
of the genie of sleep. Breathe slow pulsation into the world so
tempered. Imagine clouds of smoke crawling the surface of such a world,
unable to fly away though it would; imagine again your soul about to
depart lingering, unable to leave its shell. Such is the condition I
mean. It is again the state in which the soul is lambently struggling,
and finally unable to preserve its entity dissolves into an ethereal
existence and clings and hangs about with no heart to depart.

  ♦ “Breath” replaced with “Breathe”

I was traversing this borderland of dreamy consciousness when the
“karakami”(16) of my room opened, as if of its own accord, and in the
opening appeared the figure of a woman, like a phantom. The apparition
did not cause me surprise, nor did it frighten me: I simply looked
at it with easy pleasant sensation. Perhaps I put it too strongly to
say I “looked at”; for the truth was, the shadowy thing ♦slid with no
permission of mine behind the lids of my eyes, which were closed. The
phantom slowly came into my room, with the smoothness of a fairy queen
walking across a placid surface of water. The matted floor gave no
sound of human foot steps. I could not tell distinctly as I was looking
through closed eyelids; but she looked fair, with a wealth of hair
and a long well-shaped neck, making me feel as if I were throwing my
eyes on a vignette of latter-day vogue, held up against a light.

  ♦ “slided” replaced with “slid”

The vision stopped before a cupboard in the rear of the room. A
karakami screening the cupboard was pushed open and a slim arm visible
in the dark came out of a sleeve. The screen closed then and the
phantom sailed noiselessly back to the opening, which, in the next
moment, closed of itself. Sleep now gathered faster and faster on me.
The dead must feel as I did then, I obscurely imagined, before being
reborn into a horse or an ox.

I did not know how long I had been wandering between man and horse;
only I opened my eyes. The curtain of night had apparently been raised
long since, and the world was light from end to end, with the bright
Spring sun printing darkly bamboo lattices on the window “shoji,”♦
leaving no room, as it appeared, for any spooky things to lurk about on
the face of the earth. The mysterious apparition must have hied into
the far, far away world on the other side of the Styx.

  ♦ “(7)” redundant footnote indicator removed

I went straightway down to the bath-room for a morning dip. I just
held my head above water for a full five minutes, perfectly will-less
to wash my face or to be getting out. How could I have gone, I
wondered, into such state of mind as I did last night and how could the
world go head-over-heels so completely by merely crossing the boundary
line of night and day.

I was too lazy to dry myself and was coming out of the bath-room almost
wet, when to my surprise, simultaneous with my opening the bath-room
door from within, a voice—that of a woman—outside said: “Good morning,
did you sleep well last night?”

I had expected no one on the other side of the door, and the greeting
came with such absolute suddenness that I was at a loss for an answer.
The voice then said: “Put this on and be good; so there.” This was said
as the person, from whom the voice proceeded, went behind me and put
gently on my back a kimono deliciously soft to the ♦skin,(18) Then and
only then did the command of words return to me sufficiently to enable
me to blurt out: “So kind of you, thank you.” The woman withdrew a step
or two backward as I turned to say this.

  ♦ “skin,(8)” replaced with “skin,(18)”

Now, it is an unwritten law for novelists, from time immemorial,
to give the minutest portrayal of their hero or heroine. If words,
phrases, clauses, and effusions employed by ancients as well as by
moderns, of the East and of the West, in describing and speaking of
beautiful women, were collected, they might, indeed, out-volume even
the great Buddhist Sutras. The words might mount up to a countless
number, if I were to pick out, from this overwhelming accumulation of
adjectives, those that would fit the woman, who was standing three
steps from me, with her body slightly twisted half way round toward
me and looking at me from the corner of her eyes, as if enjoying my
amazement and embarrassment. To confess the truth, I had never yet
seen an expression like this woman’s in the thirty years of my life.
According to the Greek sculptural ideals, the artists say, calmness
seems to be that state of force in which it is ready for, but has not
yet gone, into action. Roused into action it may awake the winds and
clouds and bring down a thunder-storm. But one does not know what,
and it is precisely the consciousness of this profound and unseen
potentiality that makes the Greek art live for centuries and centuries
with its unchanging powers of fascination. This serene calmness with
its electric possibilities, it is which forms the source of what the
world calls dignity and augustness. But once in motion the force
must take one form or another, and once in form it can no longer retain
its mystic powers, nor can it recover its perfection. There is always,
thus, something low and mean in motion. This one word motion, it was,
that made failures of Unkey’s Niwo and Hokusai’s comic pictures. Motion
or rest? That is where the vital question hangs for us artists. The
qualities of beautiful women, from the oldest of times, may be brought
under either one of these categories.

But the woman before me was a puzzle, her expression defying my power
of judgment. Her lips were tightly sealed, and yet they seemed to
speak. Her eyes were ceaselessly on the alert, indeed, motion itself.
Her face was a lovely oval, somewhat fleshy downward and altogether
calmly composed. Her brow was narrow, not quite in keeping with her
generally classical features. Especially noticeable were her eyebrows
that almost joined, and the nervous twitching going on between them as
if a drop of mint oil were drying there. Not so with her nose, which
was neither too thin and sharp, bespeaking flippancy nor beetle-like,
indicating dullness, but was of such shape as would make a fine
picture. In short, her features, taken separately, had each its own
point of significance, and it was no wonder I was at a loss as they all
at once crowded into my eyes with no claim to harmony.

Supposing an earthquake occurred, convulsing the earth. Suppose
that awakening to the fact that motion is against one’s nature, one
strives to recover one’s former repose; but carried by the force of
lost balance, one keeps on in motion, in spite of oneself, and wants
in desperation to be now agitated with a vengeance. Suppose one is
capable of an expression reflecting such a state of things, then it was
precisely such an expression that I saw in the woman before me.

Thus it was that behind her look of contempt, I could see a flicker of
yearning, and the gleam of a careful mind from under a mocking air. She
looked as if she thought nothing of a hundred men, when she let loose
her wit and rode on her high spirits. There was no unity of expression.
I might have said, light and darkness of mind were living under
the same roof, quarreling. The fact that there was no unity in her
expression was evidence, as I took it, that there was no unity in her
mind. That there was no unity in her mind must be the consequence
of there being no unity in the world in which she had lived. Hers
was the face of one struggling to overcome the unhappiness that was
weighing down upon her. She must be a woman standing under a star of

“Thank you.” Repeating the words, I lightly bowed to her.

“Your room is dusted. Go back and you will see. I will come to you

No sooner had she said this than she nimbly turned round and lightly
hurried away along the passage. She had her hair done up in the
“butterfly” style. I could espy her fair neck under the black hair.
Quite striking was her black satin “obi,” wound round her shapely
waist. Perhaps the satin lined only one side of the sash, I reflected
as I stood watching her.

                              CHAPTER IV.

With absolutely no thought of any kind in my head, I returned to
my room, and found it dusted clean and tidied up carefully. Then I
recalled last night’s apparition, and felt an irresistible curiosity
to look into the closet. I went up to it and opened the paper screen.
I found inside an under-sized chest of drawers, with a woman’s obi
draping down its side, suggesting that somebody had carried away in
haste some clothes on the cabinet. One end of the obi was in a layer of
folded kimono of feminine colour. Some books on shelves occupied one
corner of the closet, one of the Zen(21) priest Haku-un’s works, and
the classical Isemono-gatari, standing out conspicuously among them.

Giving myself no reason, I resumed my seat on the cushion at the low
teak wood table, which served as my desk. On the table was my sketch
book, carefully placed in the centre, with a pencil between its leaves.
I took up the book, wondering how the things I wrote in dreams would
look in the morning.

    “Kaidono tsuyuo furu-u-ya monogurui.”

Somebody wrote this under it: “Kaidono tsuyuo furu-u-ya asa-garasu.”(j)
Scribbled in pencil, the style of writing was not as clear as it might
be; I thought it too stiff for a woman’s hand but too flaccid for a
man’s. Anyway, it was another surprise to me. I went on reading the
next piece:

    “Hanano kage onnano kageno oborokana.”(jk)

This had under it: “Hanano kage, onnano kageo kasanekeri.”(k) The third

“Shoichi-i onnami bakete oborozuki,” was revised beneath into:
“On-zoshi onnani bakete oborozuki.”♦(l) Were they meant to be
imitations, or corrections, or a vindication? Was the party a fool, or
was it an attempt to fool? I gave a puzzling shake to my head.

  ♦ missing footnote tag added “(l)”

“Later” she said, I told myself. She might put in her appearance, when
the meal was brought in, and I might get some light, then. What time
could it be? I looked at my watch, and it was past 11 o’clock. Such a
long sleep I had, I thought. To do with only two meals would at this
rate be good for my stomach!

I pushed open a paper screen on the right side of my room, and looked
out for a sign of last night’s phantasy. What I took for an
aronia was indeed a tree of that name in blossom; but the garden was
smaller than I fancied. The whole place was grown over with dark-green
moss, apparently so nice to walk on, and almost burying five or six
stepping stones. On the left a red-barked pine tree, growing out from
between rocks, some way up the slope of a mountain, stood slantingly
overhanging. A little behind the aronia was a thicket and still further
beyond, a grove of tall bamboos, scraping the sunny Spring sky. View to
the right was shut out by a ridge of roof; but judging from topography,
I should say the ground descended in a slow gradient towards the

The mountain had at its foot a hillock and the hillock was surrounded
by a belt of level land, about half a mile wide. This belt glided on
the outer side into the bottom of the sea, and rose sharply again forty
miles away, forming the islet Maya of thirteen miles in circumference.
This was the geography of Nakoi. The spa-hotel is built at the foot of
the hill, with its back terraced as closely as possible against its
steep side, taking in half of its craggy slope for the scenic effect
of its garden. The building is two-storeyed in front; but only one
at the rear, and sitting at the edge of my verandah, the heels touched
the ♦velvety moss. It was no wonder, I had thought last night, that the
house was a strangely planned one, with so many steps to go up and
down, and up and down.

  ♦ “velvetty” replaced with “velvety”

I now opened the window in the left flank. A natural hollow, a couple
of yards, both ways, in a big rock, had turned into a pool of water,
one does not know how long since, and was reflecting calmly in it
a wild cherry tree in bloom, while a bunch or two of giant-leaved
creeping bamboos decked a corner of the rock. Yonder a hedge of what
looked like box-thorns fenced in the garden. A road from the beach
sloping upward, for climbing the hill, seemed to pass outside the
hedge, and passers talking could be heard now again. Off the other edge
of the road, orange trees covered the ground that fell Southward, the
♦declivity ending in a great bamboo jungle, that flared white. I learned
for the first time, then, that the bamboo leaves shine like silver,
when looked at from a distance. Above the jungle, the hill on the other
side abounded in pine trees, and five or six stone steps were clearly
visible between their red trunks. Probably a temple stood on the

  ♦ “declevity” replaced with “declivity”

I went out into the verandah and found that it turned square with its
railing. An upstairs room across an inner court in the front section
of the building filled up space, which should, as I judged from its
bearings, give a view of the sea. It was jolly that leaning against the
railing, I was upstairs as high. The bath tank being situated in the
basement, and from the standpoint of taking a bath I might be said to
be living on the third floor.

The house is quite large; but the living quarters and kitchen apart,
shutters were down in nearly all the rooms, except the up-stairs one in
the front section, another next to mine by turning to the right along
the verandah, and my own, of course. Evidently I was the only guest
stopping there. The rain-doors were all closed; but judging from the
look of things I might wager pretty safely that once they opened those
doors they would not go to the trouble of shutting them again, even
at night. One ♦might even suspect they did not bother themselves about
locking the entrance door. I should say, an ideal place for an unhuman

  ♦ “night” replaced with “might”

It was almost noon by my watch, and I was beginning to feel
somewhat empty. But there was no sign of any tiffin forthcoming.
Imagining myself a wanderer in the familiar line of poetry, “Void the
mountain, not a soul seen,” I thought I might do without a meal or so
cheerfully. I felt too lazy to paint. As for the poetry, I have been
living it, and it appeared to me decidedly unwise to try to compose
one. I have brought with me a few books tied into my tripod; but even
that I felt in no mood to untie and read. Lying with the shadow of
flowers on the verandah, with my back basking in warm sunshine of
Spring, I was in the height of worldly delectation. I shall fall off
if I thought and a motion was dangerous. If I could help it, I did not
want even to breathe, I felt like remaining immobile for a fortnight or
so, like a plant growing out of the floor matting.

Presently I heard somebody walking along the passage, and then coming
up-stairs. As the footsteps neared, I judged there were two. No sooner
had they stopped outside my room than one of them went back the way
he or she came, without a word. The karakami opened and I expected to
greet her of this morning. I felt as if I had missed something, when I
saw that it was only the young maid of last night.

“Sorry, Danna-sama, we kept you waiting.” So saying the girl placed
a portable dinner table before me, with not a word of reference to
the missing breakfast. On the table was a dish of broiled fish with
something green, and a lacquered bowl, which, on taking off the cover,
revealed a clear soup with some young ferns and some red and white
shrimps. The colours of shrimps, were so lovely that I kept looking at
them a while.

“You don’t like that, Danna-sama,” asks the girl.

“Yes, I am going to take it,” I said; but in my mind I was loath to eat
so charming a thing. I remembered reading in a book, that taking some
salad into his dish, and looking at, Turner said to one sitting next
to him at dinner, that its colour was refreshing and was the one he
used. I wished very much that I could have let Turner see the shrimps
and the ferns. In my opinion, there is nothing beautiful in colour in
Western dishes, excepting perhaps salad and radishes. I cannot, of
course, say anything from the nutritious point of view, but I must say
that theirs is very uncivilized from the artist’s point of view. On
the contrary the Japanese dishes are all superbly beautiful, be it the
soup, the pastry or the sliced raw fish. You may come away without
taking a single chopstickful of things set before you, but you may
consider yourself fully repaid for having been at a tea-house, from the
point of view of having feasted your eyes.

“There is a young lady, here?” I asked the girl, as I put down the soup

“Yes, sir.”

“Who is she?”

“She is the young Mistress.”

“Is there any elder Mistress besides her?”

“She died last year.”

“And the master?”

“He lives here, and the lady is his daughter.”

“That young lady?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are there any other guests?”

“No, sir.”

“Only myself, then?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What does the young Mistress do every day?”



“She plays samisen.”(19)

How unexpected! However quite interesting and so:

“What else?” I asked.

“She goes to the temple,” answers the girl.

Unexpected again. The samisen playing and the temple going are
decidedly a curious conglomeration.

“Does she go there to worship?”

“She goes there to see the Osho-sama.”(20)

“Does the Osho-san take lessons in samisen?”

“No, sir.”

“What does she go there for?”

“She goes there to see Daitetsu-sama.”

It dawned on me that Daitetsu must be the priest who wrote the framed
calligraphy on the wall. Judging from its wording Daitetsu must be a Zen
priest, and Haku-un’s book in the closet must belong to him.

  ♦ “caligraph” replaced with “calligraphy”

“Is this a living room for any one of the family?”

“Yes, sir; the Mistress lives here.”

“Is that so? Well, then, she had been here till I came in, last night?”


“I am sorry, I have robbed her of her room. And what does she go to see
Daitetsu-san for?”

“I don’t know.”

“Anything else?”

“Many other things.”

“What many other things?”

“I don’t know.”

This put an end to my catechism, and also to my tiffin. The girl took
away the little table. As she pulled open the wall-papered screen, I
saw through the opening the young woman of butterfly coiffeur, resting
her chin in her hands that were supported by arms which had their
elbows on the railing of the up-stairs verandah, overlooking a inner
court shrubbery. The “butterfly” was gazing downward with the pose
of a modernised goddess of mercy. In contrast to how she struck me
this morning, she was serenely calm. Looking downward as she was, I
could not tell how her eyes were moving. I could only wonder if any
change had come into her expression. An ancient says that nothing
speaks better for a person than his pupils. He is right. How can a
man conceal? There is, indeed, no organ in human body so alive as the
eye. Two real butterflies flew upward twirling around each other from
under the railing, on which the human butterfly was leaning quietly.
It was just at this juncture that the girl opened the fusuma(22)
of my room, and the noise made the woman yonder lift her eyes from the
butterflies, and direct them toward me. Her eyes shot through the space
like a shaft of rays, and hit me between my own. My heart throbbed; but
the same moment the girl closed the screen. The momentary spell broke
and I returned to the noon tide of balmy Spring.

I again stretched myself full length on the matted floor, and soon I
was reciting:

    “Sadder than the moon’s lost light,
       Lost is the kindling of dawn,
       To travellers journeying on,
     The shutting of thy fair face from my sight.”

Supposing I was in love with the “butterfly” and felt deeply the flash
of joy or the pang of a sudden parting like the one I just had, at the
very moment when I was dying to meet her, I should have unquestionably
poetised in a strain something like the above. Furthermore, I may have

    “Might I look on thee in death,
     With bliss I would yield my breath.”

these two lines. Fortunately, I had long since left behind me the
common glamour of love and amour, and could not feel pangs of this
kind, even if I would. Nevertheless, the poetical significance of the
event that had just happened was well brought out in the six lines. Not
that there was any such heart’s anguish between the “butterfly” and
myself. I felt it highly entertaining to think of our present relations
in the light of these verses. Nor was it unpleasant to interpret the
meaning of these lines as reflecting our present condition. There
was, indeed, an invisibly thin line of cause and effect, binding us
together, making real, at least, part of the conditions sung in these
lines. The thread of cause and effect occasions no worry when as thin
as this. Besides, it is no ordinary thread, but is like the rainbow
spanning the sky; like the haze screening ♦horizon; and like the
spider-web sparkling with dew. It may break at any moment if wanted
to be broken; but it is exquisitely beautiful while it remains and is
seen. But what if the thread should, all of a sudden, grow thick and
stout as a halyard? No fear: I am an artist and she is not of a common

  ♦ “horison” replaced with “horizon”

Suddenly the fusuma opened again, and I rolled my body round to look
that way. There was standing in the opening, the “butterfly,”
the other end of cause and effect, holding up in her hand a celadon
porcelain bowl on a tray.

“Lying down again? It must have been annoying to you to be disturbed so
often, last night, ho, ho, ho,” she laughed. She betrayed not the least
sign of having been impressed with fear or of fearing, still less with
a bashful feeling. The only thing was, she got the start of me.

“Thank you, this morning,” I said my thanks again. This was the third
time I made acknowledgment for the ♦dishabille, and each time it
consisted of the two words “Thank you.”

  ♦ “dishabile” replaced with “dishabille”

I made a move to sit up; but she was quicker; she had sat down on the
matting close to where I was lying:

“Oh, please don’t stir. You can talk as you are, Sensei.”(23)

I thought her quite convincing and only changed my pose so far as to
lie on my belly, with my chin on the ends of two arms, planted in on
the tatami-mat.

“I have come to make tea for you, Sensei, thinking you must be tired of
doing nothing.”

“Thank you.” I said it again. I saw, in the sea-green cake-bowl she
brought, some isinglass paste “yokan.” I love yokan. Not that I am
eager to eat it, but to me it appeals decidedly as an objet d’art, with
its fine, smooth surface, that glistens semi-transparently as the light
strikes it. Especially pleasant-looking is the one of light-green,
with its lustre and its appearance of being wrought with marble and
gyoku-stone. In a celadon bowl, it looks as if just born out of it.
It makes me feel like putting out my hand and feeling it. No Western
cake, that I know of, produces such delicious impression as the yokan.
Cream is agreeably soft in colour, but there is something heavy and
thick about it, while jelly with all its look of a precious stone,
trembles so that it is devoid of the weightiness of the yokan. It is
an insuperable abomination when it comes to a tower of flour, milk and

“Oh, very nice.”

“Gembey has just brought it back from the town. I hope it is good
enough for your taste.”

Gembey must have stopped overnight in the town, I thought; but I made
no answer. It made no difference to me where the thing was got or by
whom. The thing being beautiful, I should be content with thinking that
it is beautiful.

“This celadon bowl is exquisite in shape and superb in tint. It
makes a worthy match to the yokan.”

The woman smiled a smile that betrayed a shadow of contempt playing
about her mouth. It was probable that she thought I was jesting. If
that is the case, my words, I must confess, fully deserved contumely.
When a witless fellow tries to be jocular, he generally lands himself
on a sorry exhibition of this kind.

“Is this Chinese?”

“I have no idea.” The celadon had no place in her eyes.

“Somehow it appears Chinese to me.” I looked at its base by holding up
the bowl.

“Do you take interest in things of that sort, Sensei? Would you like to
see more?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“Father is very fond of bric-a-brac and has quite a collection. I shall
tell father about you, and let him invite you to a cup of tea.”

Tea? The word called up before me a picture I am not very enthusiastic
about. In fact it made me shrink back. I am persuaded that there is
no refined idler that so unwarrantably puts on airs as the frothing
tea imbiber. He almost suffocatingly narrows the wide world of poetry
and does things most self-importantly, most over-studiedly
and most hair-splittingly. He drinks of foamy froth in altogether
unnecessarily abject humility, and finds himself in the seventh
heaven of joy. Such is the tea man. If there be any pleasure and
interest in this intricate tangle of rules, then the denizens of the
regimental barracks at Azabu must have joys and pleasures knocking
about their nose. The “right-turn!” and “march-on!” lads must be all
great tea men. Pshaw! They—the so-called tea-men—are, to tell the
truth, merchants, tradesmen, and the like; with no real taste-culture,
who have no idea of what makes nature-loving refinement, and swallow
mechanically the tea-rules adopted since the days of the great
tea-master, Rikyu, of three centuries ago, and delude themselves into
being men of refinement. Theirs is a trick to make fools of real men of
nature-loving refinement.

“Tea? You mean the tea drinking ceremony?”

“No, Sensei; but tea with no ceremony, which you need not drink if you
don’t wish to, take a cup or even two.”

“If that is the kind, then, I may just as well.”

“Father is very fond of showing his collection.”

“Must I praise them to the skies?”

“Well, Sensei, he is growing old and compliments gladden him.”

“I may go about it lightly then.”

“You may be generous into the bargain.”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha. Pardon my observing that you do not speak the
country-side language.”

“Not in language, but in person, you mean?”

“In personality it is better for one to be of the countryside.”

“Then I may give myself airs?”

“But you have lived in Tokyo?”

“Yes, I have been there, and also in Kyoto. I am a bird of passage and
I have been in many places.”

“Which do you like best, here or the capital?”

“It is all the same to me.”

“You feel more at home in a quiet place like this, don’t you?”

“At home, or not at home, the life in this world depends all upon how
you train your mind. It would be of no use to move into a land of
mosquitoes, when you got sick of the country of fleas.”

“It would be all well if you emigrated into a country, where there were
neither mosquitoes nor fleas?”

“If there be any such country, just show it to me, please Sensei. Show
it to me now,” says the woman earnestly.

“If you wish, I certainly will.” I took out my sketch book and let my
brush spin out a woman on horse back, looking up to a mountain cherry
blossom—just an imaginary impression. A work of the instant, it hardly
made a picture, but to give an idea. I speedily finished it and said:

“Now get in here, there is neither flea nor mosquito in this land,”
putting it under her nose. Will she be seized by a surprise or by
bashfulness? To judge by her looks, I felt sure that embarrassment
would be the last thing she would allow to overtake her. I watched her
for the moment.

“What a cramped up world! It is all width. You are fond of a place like
this? You must be a regular crab.” Thus she got herself out, and I
laughed out aloud:

“Ha, ha, ha, ha.”

A sweet warbler that had come near the eve of the house, broke its note
in the middle of its song and hopped to a tree a little way off. We
purposely stopped our talk and listened in silence; but the little
throat that lost its tune would not recover it easily.

“You met Gembey on the mountain, yesterday, Sensei?”

“Yes, my lady.”

“You made a detour to see the ‘five elements’ tomb of the Maid of

“Even like the dew drop, that when autumn comes lodges trembling on
grass, must I roll off to die.” The woman recited the lines, just the
words only, with no tune or intonation. I did not know what for, but
volunteered the information:

“I heard that song at the tea stall.”

“The old woman told you then. Long ago she was with us as our servant
here, before I....” Here she looked at me, and I pretended to know

“It was when I was young. I used to tell her the story of Nagarano
Otome, every time she called on us after leaving here. The song was
very difficult for her to remember. But hearing if told her so often,
she finally got everything by heart.”

“That accounts for it; I thought she knew a very literary sort of thing
for a woman of her station—however that song is a sad one.”

“Sad, do you think? If I were that maiden, I would have never sung like
that. In the first place, what good will it serve to throw yourself
into a river and die?”

“None whatever. What would you have done?”

“What would I have done? Why it is easy enough. I would have made
sweethearts of both Sasada Otoko and Sasabe Otoko.”


“Yes, yes.”

“You are great.”

“Not great at all; but only natural.”

“Now I see, you can thus get along without flying into the land of
fleas or the land of mosquitoes?”

“You see, you can live on without feeling like a crab?”

“Hoh ho-ke-kyo,” the warbler recovered its note, which it had almost
lost, and vindicated the fact with loudness that was wholly unexpected.
Once recovered, the song seemed to flow out of its own accord, as the
bird held down its head, quivered its swelling throat, opened its mouth
as wide as it could, and kept on:

“Hoh ho-ke-kyo. Hoh hokke-kyo....”

The bird went on without stopping, and the woman took the trouble to
tell me:

“That is the real poetry.”

                              CHAPTER V.

“Pardon, Danna(24) but may I ask you if you are from Tokyo?”

“Do I look from Tokyo?”

“Look? Why a glance ... your language tells.”

“Can you tell where in Tokyo?”

“Well, that is a puzzler; Tokyo is so large.... Let me see. You cannot
be from down town. You must belong to up-town. The up-town parts
are ... Kojimachi, eh? Or Koishikawa? If not, you must be from Ushigome
or Yotsuya?”

“Somewhere around there. You seem to know Tokyo well?”

“Well, I am Tokyo-born, Danna, look what I may.”

“No wonder, I thought you looked a city man.”

“Aha, he, he, he, it is all up with a fellow, Danna, when he comes down
to this.”

“What made you to drift into a place like this?”

“You are right, Danna, it is drifted that I have done. I had gone down
so low that I could not go lower, and had to say good-bye to Tokyo.”

“You ran a barber-shop from the beginning?”

“No, not ran, Danna, I am only a journeyman barber. There is a block
named Matsunagacho, a dingy small place ... a gentleman like you don’t
know it, of course. But Ryukan-bashi ... you don’t know that either,
eh? It is a pretty well known bridge....”

“I say, give me little more soap, ♦won’t you? It hurts.”

  ♦ “wont” replaced with “won’t”

“It hurts? I am very particular about shaving, Danna. I never consider
my work done, until I have gone over along and then gone over
contrariwise, cutting each individual hair at the very root. No, what
the latter-day barbers do is not shaving but letting the razor slide
over the face. Bear it a bit more and you will be done.”

“Bear I have done, quite a while now. There is a good fellow, put some
warm water, if not soap.”

“You can stand no longer? My shaving never hurts. The fact is, you have
allowed your beard to grow too long without shaving.”

The barber reluctantly let go my cheek, which he was pinching with
the force of clinched nippers, and taking down a thin apology of a
red cake of soap, he had no sooner wetted it in a basin of water
than he went all over my face with it. To have a piece of soap applied
directly to the skin of my face was one of my rarest experiences in
barber shops, and I was not over-pleased to see that the water in which
the soap was dipped had the appearance of having stood there for some

Sitting in a barber’s chair, I was called upon, in vindication of my
right as a customer, to look into a mirror. I have been thinking, for
sometime, however, if I should not waive this right. A mirror owes it
to itself that its surface is perfectly even and flat, and the image it
reflects shall be faithful to the original. If the owner of a mirror,
which is not possessed of this common quality, forces you to look
into it, you may charge him, as you will a poor photographer, with
intentionally injuring your looks. Snubbing the vain may serve cultural
purposes; but I fail to see the justice of insulting you by calling a
reflection your face, which makes a mockery of it. The mirror, which
I was expected to exercise patience to look into, has decidedly been
insulting me. I slightly turn my face right, and the mirror makes all
nose of it. I turn left, and my mouth extends clear up to the ears.
I look a perfect picture of a crushed toad, when I turn my eyes upward.
My head elongates itself limitlessly, the moment I incline it ever
so little forward. I must make of myself monsters of all imaginable
variety as long as I sit before this mirror. Who can say that I was not
undergoing a torture?

Moreover, this barber was no common barber. He appeared human enough,
when I first looked in, and saw him depositing tobacco ashes from his
long pipe on a toy flag of Anglo-Japanese Alliance, apparently feeling
very wearisome. But fear crept into me, the moment I walked in and gave
him the custody of my head; for a doubt arose in me whether the right
of ownership of my cranium and parts appertaining passed completely
to him or whether I still retained a small fraction of it myself. His
handling of my head! I felt that it could not remain there much longer,
even if it were nailed onto my shoulders.

His manner of using the razor showed him to be a perfect stranger to
the rules of civilization. The weapon made a most blood-curdling sound,
when scraping across my cheek. As it came to the tuft of hair by the
ear, the artery almost snapped. About the chin, it sported itself
making a noise as of somebody crunching the frost raised ground. The
most dreadful part of the story was that this barber considered himself
the most skilful tonsor in the land.

Lastly, the man was well loaded with something of fairly strong
flavour. Every time he said Danna, a smell accompanied the word and a
gust of highly-charged gas attacked my nose. At this rate there was no
telling when or where his razor might make a jaunt of its own. The man
using it having no definite plan to guide him, it was impossible that
I, who placed my head in his custody, should have any idea of it. I
should not grumble as my head was in his hands as part of a legitimate
understanding. But what, if he should change his mind and set about
cutting my throat?

“It is only fellows who are not sure of their hand that use soap.
But it cannot be helped, perhaps, in your case, because you are too
hairy, Danna.” So protesting my man put the soap back to the shelf; but
disobeying his wish, it fell to the clay floor.

“I don’t think I have seen much of you around here, Danna. You have
come here lately?”

“Why, yes, I came here, only a few days ago.”

“Is that so? Where are you stopping?”

“At Shiota Hotel.”

“You are a guest at Shiota, are you? That was what I thought. To tell
you the truth I came here looking for help from the old gentleman of
Shiota. I used to know him, located near him as I was, while he lived
in Tokyo. He is a fine old man, knowing what is what. He lost his wife
last year, and he now passes most of his time in toying with his curios
and things. He is said to have great things, which would bring in a
good little fortune if sold.”

“Has he not got a pretty daughter?”

“Look out, there!”

“What for?”

“Why? You may not know it, but she is a divorcee.”

“So, eh?”

“You don’t seem to make much of it, Danna; but it was an affair. It was
not at all necessary that she should take a divorce.... The bank busted
and she left her husband, because she could no longer go in for a high
living. She may be all right, as long as the old man is there; but if
anything should happen to him, she would be lost in the sea.”

“You think so?”

“Of course I do, and she and her elder brother, who is now the head of
the family are no friends at all.”

“The head of the family?”

“Yes, the old man is retired, and ♦family affairs are in the charge of
his son, who lives upon the hill. It is a fine place he lives in, with
a most beautiful view. You should have a look at it.”

  ♦ “famliy” replaced with “family”

“Oh, say give me another coat of soap. It is hurting again.”

“Your skin must be very soft. It is because your beard is too tough.
You must have a shave at least once in three days. If my shave hurts
you, you can’t stand it any where else.”

“I shall do so in future. Or I may have it every day.”

“You are going to stay so long? Do you know that you are running a
risk? I should say, don’t. No good will come out of it. You don’t know
what trouble you will bring upon yourself by getting tangled up in a
silly affair.”


“Ah, Danna, that woman is pretty to look at; but you must know that she
is not right in the head.”


“Why? The villagers all say she is crazy.”

“There must be some mistake about that.”

“No, we have a proof that it is not. Don’t, Danna, it is risky.”

“I am perfectly safe. What kind of proof do you have?”

“Well, it is a queer affair. Light a cigarette and take your time, and
I shall tell.... Will you have a shampoo?”

“No thanks.”

“Let me then shake off the dandruff a little.”

The barber put his ten fingers, which ended in well grown nails, loaded
with goodly deposits of dirt, upon my cranium, and set them in motion
most violently, forward and backward. The formidable nails ploughed the
root of each hair in my head like a rake in the hand of a giant combing
a field of wild grass with the power and swiftness of a hurricane. I do
not know how many hundreds of thousands of hair there are in my head;
I only felt that every one of my ♦capillary growth was being up-rooted,
leaving the skin in wales, in addition to making the skull and the grey
matter of brains vibrate most violently. So strongly did the man
rummage my head.

  ♦ “capilary” replaced with “capillary”

“How do you feel, now? Wasn’t that good?”

“You went at it pretty lively.”

“Eh? Everybody feels clear in head after my scrub.”

“I feel as if my head is dropping away.”

“You are feeling so tired? It is the weather does it. Spring makes
you feel lazy. Have a smoke. You must feel lonesome, Danna, stopping
alone at Shiota? You must drop in to see me. The Tokyo-born likes the
Tokyo-born. Your talk ♦won’t fall in with others. Does the O-Jo-san come
out to say nice things to you? The trouble with her is she is all mixed
up about right and wrong.”

  ♦ “wont” replaced with “won’t”

“You were going to say something about O-Jo-san, and then you went
about scrubbing my head and I felt as it was coming off.”

“That was so. My head is so empty and I skip about so. I was going to
say that the priest fell head over ears in love with her.”

“The priest? What priest?”

“The priestling of Kaikanji, of course.”

“You haven’t said a word about a priest, full-fledged or half fledged.”

“Haven’t I? I am so hasty, Danna. The priest, that priestling, was
good in looks, of a cast that girls like. This bozu(25) became, I tell
you, smitten by her of Shiota and at last wrote her a love letter....
Wait a bit, did he go at it himself? No, it was, he wrote.... Let me
see.... I am getting mixed up.... No, I am all right, I’ve got it ...
so was in fright and consternation.”

“Who was in fright and consternation?”

“The woman, of course.”

“By receiving the letter?”

“That would be a saving grace if she were. But she is not of the kind
to get scared.”

“Who was it really, then, that was in fright and consternation?”

“Why, he that spoke to her of his love.”

“I thought he did not go at it personally.”

“Oh, chuck it. It is all wrong. By receiving the letter, can’t you see?”

“Why then it must be the woman, who was in fright and consternation.”

“No, the man.”

“If man, then it must be the priest?”

“Yes, the priest, of course.”

“But what scared him so?”

“What scared him? Why, he, the priest, was in the temple assisting
the abbot in the afternoon service. Then all of a sudden, the woman
rushed into the temple.... Lord, she must be off a great deal.”

“Did she do anything?”

“‘If I am so dear to you, come let us make love before our all mighty
Buddha,’ she said and hugged him by the neck!”


“Consternation was no word, for poor Taian, the priest. He got all the
shame he wanted by writing to a lunatic, and, disappearing that night,
he died.”


“At least I think he must have killed himself. He could not have
outlived the shame.”

“I don’t know about that.”

“Maybe he is still living somewhere. Death would not have come out so
well, the other party being a mad woman.”

“Very interesting, indeed.”

“Interesting is no word for it. Why the affair set the whole village
a-roaring with laughter. But the woman, being off her mind, was all
indifference as she still is. All will be well for a man so sober like
you, Danna; but the party being what she is, you don’t know what
mess you will get into, if you try to flirt with her.”

“I have got to be careful, eh? Ha, ha, ha!”

The Spring breeze came lazily wafting from the genially warm beach,
and set the entrance curtain of the barber’s shop flapping sleepily,
and a swallow cast its flitting shadow in the mirror before me, as it
dived under the curtain with its body half turned. Under the eve of a
house on the other side of the road, a sexagenarian sat squatting on a
slightly raised seat, and was busy shelling bivalves in silence. Every
time a small knife went in between shells, a small flabby lump fell
into a basket, and the empty shells were thrown away, two feet across
the gossamer, there adding to the height of a sparkling heap. Now and
again the heap collapsed, sending the oyster, clam, and other shells
down into a small brook, to be buried forever in its sandy bed. In
no time the heap grew again under a willow tree; but the old man was
too busy to think of a life beyond molluscs; he only went on throwing
meatless shells upon gossamer. His basket seemed to be bottomless and
his Spring day endless.

The sandy stream ran under a twelve yard bridge, carrying the warm
water of Spring toward the sea shore. Down where Spring’s water joined
the tide of the sea, numberless fishing nets were drying in the sun,
hanging from erect poles of longer or shorter lengths and were giving,
one might suspect, a fish-smelling warmth to the soft breeze wafting
towards the village through their ♦meshes. And one saw between them the
placid face of the sea, undulating slowly like molten lead.

  ♦ “messhes” replaced with “meshes”

No harmony was possible between this scenery and my barber. If he were
a man of strong personality, strong enough to impress me as powerfully
as the scenery around, I should have been struck with a sense of
great incongruity. Fortunately, however, my man was not so striking a
character. However Tokyo-born, however high-spiritedly he might talk,
he was no match for the all genial and all embracing influence of
nature. My barber has been essaying to break up this all subjugating
power of nature with all his caustic effervescences; but instead he has
been swallowed up and was floating in the light wave of Spring, not
leaving a trace of the loud-talking Tokyo-born barber. Inconsistency
is a phenomenon to be found between persons or things of equal
standing, but possessed of hopeless incompatibility in strength, spirit
or physique. When distance is very great between the two, inconsistency
wears out, and will, instead, assume activity only as part of a
superior power. Thus it happens that cleverness becomes a willing
servant of greatness; the unintelligent of the clever; and horses and
cattle of the unintelligent. My barber is making a comic exhibition
of himself, with the beautiful scenery of Spring for his background.
He who tries to spoil the calm Springy feeling is only adding to the
♦profundity of that feeling. This man of very cheap vaporing cannot but
prove after all a colour in full harmony with the Spring afternoon,
which is symbolic of gloriousness.

  ♦ “profoundity” replaced with “profundity”

My man would make rather a good picture, and poetry, too, when studied
in this light, and I stayed talking with him long after my shave
was over, when a small head of a young priest put in an appearance,
slipping in by the entrance curtain and said:

“A shave please.”(26)

The newcomer was a jolly-looking little priest in an old-fashioned grey
cotton clothes, held together by a coil of light but cotton-wadded
belt, under a mosquito-net-like cloak.

“You got a scolding, didn’t you, the other day, for loafing,

“No, I was complimented.”

“Complimented for catching minnows on your way to an errand, were you?”

“The Osho-san praised me, saying: ‘You did well Ryonen, to take your
time in play, young though you are.’”

“That accounts, eh? You have got many swellings in your head. Too much
trouble to shave a bumpy head like this; but I let you off this time.
Don’t come again with a freak of a head like this.”

“Thanks, I shall go to a better barber when my head is in good shape.”

“Ha, ha, ha, this zig-zag thing has got a tongue to talk with to be

“Poor in work, but quite up in boozing, that is what you are, arn’t

“Poor in work? Say it again....”

“Not I, but it is the Osho-san who says it. Don’t get so mad, if you
know how old you are.”

“Humph, the idea! Isn’t that so Danna?”


“Priests, they live high above the stone steps, and have nothing
much to look after. That must be what makes them so free in tongue.
Even this little fellow can talk so. There lay down your head—lay down,
I say, do you hear? I will cut you if you don’t do as I tell you. You
understand? The red thing will run.”

“It hurts! Don’t be so rough.”

“If you can’t stand this sort of thing, how can you expect to be a

“I am one already.”

“But not full feathered yet. Oh, say, by the way, how did Taian-san

“Taian-san is not dead.”

“Not dead? He must be dead.”

“Taian-san has got a new spirit and is now hard at his study at
Taibaiji temple in Rikuzen. Everybody expects he will make a great
priest by and by. A very good thing, indeed.”

“What is good? Priests may have their way; but it cannot be good even
for them to decamp at night? You ought to be careful, you young one, it
is woman who brings you trouble. Speaking of a woman, does that crazy
thing still come to the Osho-san?”

“I have never heard of a woman named ‘Crazy Thing’.”

“You blockhead, tell me, does she come or does she not.”

“No crazy woman comes; but Mr. Shiota’s daughter comes.”

“The Osho-san may be great; but he ♦won’t be able to make anything of
the poor girl. She is possessed by her former husband.”

  ♦ “wont” replaced with “won’t”

“That lady is a very worthy woman. The Osho-san speaks highly of her.”

“That beats all. Everything is topsy-turvy up there, above the stone
steps. Whatever the Osho-san may say, the mad must be mad—Here now, all
shaved. Hurry home and get another scolding.”

  ♦ “topsyturvy” replaced with “topsy-turvy”

“No, not yet. I shall take little more time to get a good opinion of
the Osho-san.”

“Do as you please, you long-tongued brat.”

“Go on, you dry rot.”


But the clean shaved head dived under and was on the other side of the
curtain, the Spring breeze softly fanning it.

                              CHAPTER VI.

I sat at my desk, as the sun was going down. I had opened wide all the
paper screens and doors of my room. The people of the hotel are not
many, but its building is extensive. My room is far in the interior,
with many turns of passage, separating it from the quarters inhabited
by the not many people of the establishment, and no sound comes to
disturb my thinking. It has been especially quiet today. I even fancied
that the proprietor, his daughter, the young maid and the man servant
had all gone away unknown to me. Had they done so, they could not, I
thought, have gone to an ordinary place; they must have flown to a land
of hazes, or of cloud—so far, far away that it may be reached only
after floating lazily on the sea, carelessly and too lazy to steer,
until drifted to where the white sail became indistinguishable from
cloud or water, and indeed the sail itself could not tell whether it
was the cloud or water. Otherwise they must have vanished, swallowed
up in the spirit of Spring, the elements of which they are composed
returning to an invisible ether, untraceable in the great expanse
of space even with the help of a microscope. They might have become the
lark and flown to where the evening dusk was deepening into purple,
after they have sung out the golden yellow of the rape flowers. Or else
they might be sweetly sleeping out the world a captive under a fallen
camellia flower, failing to steal its nectar, after having served to
draw out lengthily the long Spring day, by turning into a gad-fly. So
quiet was the day.

  ♦ “swollowed” replaced with “swallowed”

The Spring breeze passed freely through the empty house not necessarily
as a duty to those who welcomed it, nor yet out of spite to those who
resented it. It came naturally and went naturally, a reflection of the
impartial universe. With my chin resting in the palms of my hands, my
mind was as free and open as my room, and the breeze would, uninvited,
pass in and out with perfect freedom.

You think of treading on, and you fear the earth might crack open under
you. You know the sky is hanging over you, and you dread lightning
might flash out and smite you. You are urged that you fail your manhood
unless you assert your antagonism and the world becomes a place
of endless trouble. To him that lives under the firmament that has
its East and West and has to walk on the rope of interests, true love
is one’s enemy and visible wealth dirt. A name made and honour won
may be likened unto honey which wise bees leave behind by forgoing
their sting, after making it appear that they were manufacturing and
sweetening it. The so-called pleasures all come from love for things
and contain in them all kinds of pain. However, the world happens to
have its poet and artist, who feed on the essence of this world of
relativity, and knows the absolute principle of purity. They dine on
heaven’s haze and quench their thirst with dew. They talk of purple and
discuss crimson, and no regret detains them when death comes for them.
Their pleasures are not to become attached to things, but to become
themselves part of things. When they have become things themselves,
they find no room for their ego though they may explore the remotest
confines of the earth. They rise above worldly dirt and drink full
of the boundless air of purity. These things are said not merely to
scare those saturated with the odor of the lucre of the city, and
alone to pose loftily, but to convey the gospel contained in them
and to invite their brother beings to share in its blessings. To tell
the truth, art and poetry are principles all men are born with. Most
people, who, having counted their summers, are now living their grey
winter, will be able to reawaken their past with its joys of seeing
light shining in them. He who is unable to recall such a memory is one
who has lived a life not worth living.

I do not say that the poet’s joys consist in giving oneself exclusively
over to one thing, or surrendering ourselves solely to another. He
may, at one time enter and become a solitary flower, or turn into a
butterfly at another. Or like Wordsworth become a field of daffodils,
with his heart thrown into confusion by the wind. Sometimes again he
becomes lost in a scene and is unable clearly to tell what is it that
has captured his heart. Some people may call this being possessed by
nature. Others may describe it as the heart listening to a music of an
unstringed harp. Still others may see in it a lingering in boundless
regions or wandering in a limitless expanse, being unable to know or to
understand. Say what they like, they are perfectly free to do so. I was
precisely in this state of mind as I sat resting half of my weight
on my bent elbow that rested on my desk, with my head perfectly vacant

It was unmistakably clear that I was thinking nothing, looking at
nothing. I could not be said to have become or turned into anything,
as there was nothing of striking colours moving within my world of
consciousness. Nevertheless I was in motion. I might not be moving in
the world; but I was anyhow in motion. Not moved by a flower, not moved
by birds, not moved against humanity, still moving as in a spell.

If I must explain this state of being somehow less oracularly, I
should say that my soul was moving with the Spring. I should say
that an etherial essence, obtained by compounding all the colours,
forces, substances and sounds of Spring into an esoteric electuary,
then by melting it in dews gathered in the land of immortals, and
by finally evaporating it in the sunshine of fairyland, found its
way into my pores before I became aware, and put me into my present
state. Ordinarily an absorption is accompanied by a stimulus, which
will make the process pleasant. In my case, how I came to it was quite
hazy no stimulation accompanying it. Because of this absence of
stimulation, there was something indescribably profound in my joy,
which was quite different from those that are transparent and noisy,
and occasion superficial excitement. Mine might be likened unto a
great expanse of ocean, moving from its unseen fathomless depth from
continent to continent, except that there was not quite as much active
vitality. But I was the more fortunate because of this deficiency,
as the manifestation of great vitality must needs anticipate its
exhaustion some day. There is no such worry in the normality of things.
My mind was presently in a state more airy than normal and I was not
only free from all anxiety that strong activity might wear out, but I
was above the common level of indifferent normality. By airiness I mean
simply elusiveness, and do not imply any idea of over-weakness. Poets
speak of melting airiness or downy lightness, and the phrase exactly
fits the condition I am describing.

I wondered next, how it would work to make a picture of my fancy. I
doubted not for a moment that it would not make an ordinary picture.
An every-day painting is a mere reproduction, on a piece of silk or
canvas of what one sees around, as it is, or else after filtering it
through an æsthetic eye. A picture has done its part, when a flower
looks the flower it is, the water as it reflects in the eye, and human
characters animate as in life. If one is to rise above this common
level, one must let live on the canvas one’s theme, with touches that
utter sentiments exactly as one feels about it. Since the artists of
this order aim at working the special impressions they have received
into the phenomena they have caught, they may not be said to have
produced a picture, unless their brush speaks, at its every sweep, of
those impressions. Their work must bear out their claim that their
manner of perceiving this way and feeling that way has in no way been
influenced by or borrowed from old traditions or those going before
them, but that nevertheless theirs is the most correct and beautiful.
Otherwise they are not entitled to call the work their own.

Workers of the two classes are one in waiting for definite outside
impulses before they take up their brush, whatever differences there
may be in their depth and in the manner they treat their subjects. But
in my case, the subject I wished to treat was not so clearly defined. I
roused my senses to the highest pitch of wakefulness; but I looked
in vain for a shape, colour, shade, and lines thick and thin, in the
objects without me, to suit my fancy. My feelings had not come from
without; but even if they had, I could not raise my finger and point at
their cause as such distinctly, as they formed no definite object of
perception. All that there were, were only feelings, and the question
was how those feelings might be depicted to make a picture, nay how
I might give them expression so that others might, by looking at my
production, feel as I was feeling as nearly as possible.

An ordinary picture requires no feeling, but only the object to
reproduce. A picture of a higher order necessitates there existing the
object and feeling; one of the class still higher has nothing for its
life but feelings, and an object that will fit in with such feelings
must be caught to make a picture. But such an object is not easily
forthcoming, and even if it came, it would be no easy work to arrange
it appropriately. Even if arranged successfully, its presentation would
take such a form as would sometimes make it appear totally different
from anything in nature, so much so that it would make no picture at
all for ordinary people. The artist himself would not recognise
that his production represented anything in existence, but that his was
only an attempt to convey, however fractionally, his feelings at the
very moment when his fancy was aroused. He would consider it a most
creditable achievement if he, after scouring the length and breadth
of the country, with not a moment of forgetfulness, comes suddenly,
at the cross roads upon his lost child and folds it in his arms, not
giving time even for lightning to flash, saying, “Why you were here,
my child.” But that is where the rub comes in. If I can only work out
this tone, I shall not care what others may say of my picture. I shall,
with the least concern, let them say it is not a picture at all. If my
combination of colours, gave expression to my feelings even in part;
if the straight and curve of the lines spoke for a fraction of this
spirit; if the general disposition of the picture conveyed any of the
superprosaic thoughts, I shall not mind if the thing to assume a shape
in the picture should happen to be a horse, or a cow or something
neither a horse nor a cow. No, I shall not mind; but the trouble was
nothing would come forth to fit my fancy. I laid my sketch book open on
my desk and looked down upon it until my eyes almost fell through
it. It was useless.

I laid my pencil aside and thought; thought it was a mistake, to begin
with, that I should have tried to make a picture of abstract feelings.
Men are not so different from one another and there must have been some
who have had the same touch of thought as I have and must have tried
to perpetuate such feelings by some means or other. By what means I

Music! The word flashed across my mind. Yes, music must be the voice
of nature, born under such necessity, under such circumstances. It
occurred, for the first time, to me, then, that music is something that
must be listened to and that must be learned. Unfortunately, I am a
perfect stranger to music.

I wondered next if my fancy would not make poetry, and ventured to
step into the third dominion. In my memory, it was an individual named
Lessing, who arguing that the province of poetry are events that
occur conditioned on the passing of time, established the fundamental
principle that poetry and painting are not one but two different arts.
Seen in this light, poetry seems to give little promise of making
anything out of the situation of things, to which I have been
struggling to give expression. The physical condition of my feeling
of joy may have in it the element of time, but does not consist of
an event that progressively developed in the flow of time. My joy is
joyous not because No. 1 goes away and No. 2 comes in its place, and
not because No. 3 is born as No. 2 vanishes. I am joyful because my
joy is felt deeply and retained from the beginning. Say this in an
every-day language, and there will be no need of making a factor of
time. Poetry, like painting, will come of things arranged separately.
Only what scene and sentiment to bring into the poetry, to portray this
expansive and abandoned condition is the question. Poetry should be
forthcoming, in spite of Lessing, so soon as these factors are caught.
Homer and Virgil may be let alone. If poetry be fit to give voice to
a mood, that mood may be painted in words without being under time
restrictions and unaided by an event that progresses in an orderly
manner, as long as the simple spatial requirements of painting are

  ♦ “fulfiled” replaced with “fulfilled”

The point of my pencil began to move slowly, very slowly at first, then
with more speed on my sketch book and in half an hour I got these

    “Spring two or three months old,
     Sadness is long as sweet young plants.
     Flowers fall on the empty garden,
     In the soulless hall lies a plain harp.
     Immobile the spider in its ♦maze hangs
     Winding travels blue smoke up the bamboo beams.”

  ♦ “maize” replaced with “maze”

Reading the six lines over, I thought each of them might make a
picture and wondered why I had not set about drawing from the first.
I discussed with myself why it is easier to poetise than to paint.
Having come so far, I felt the rest ought not to be so very difficult
to follow, though a desire seized me that I should now sing a sentiment
that defied colour and brush. The squeezing my head this way and that
way yielded more lines:

    “Not a word uttered sitting alone,
     But a small light I see in the heart.
     Unwontedly troublesome are human affairs.
     Who shall forget this state?
     Enjoying one day’s quiet
     I know now how I passed hundreds of busy years.
     My yearning, where shall I communicate?
     Far, far away, in the land of white clouds.”

I read the whole piece over again. It was not so very poor; but as
a depiction of ethereal conditions I had just experienced, I felt
something still wanting. I might try to compose one more piece, and
with the pencil still between my fingers, I happened to look out of the
opened door way of my room to see at beautiful vision flitting across
the three feet space. What could it have been?

I now turned my eyes fully toward the doorway and the vision had half
disappeared behind the screen that stood pushed to one side. It had
apparently been moving before it caught my eyes, and had now gone out
of sight altogether as I stared in amazement toward it. I stopped
composing poetry, and instead I now kept my eyes fixed on the open
space in the doorway.

The clock had not ticked a full second when the vision returned from
the opposite direction to that which it had disappeared. It was that of
a slim woman in a wedding gown with long sleeves, walking gracefully
along the upstairs verandah of the wing of the hotel, flanking my room.
I did not know why, but the pencil fell from my fingers, and the breath
I was inhaling through my nose stopped of its own accord. The sky
was darkening, as if forewarning one of the cherry season showers, to
hasten the evening dusk; but the gowned figure kept on appearing and
disappearing in the heavily-charged atmosphere, walking with benign
gentleness along the verandah, twelve yards away from me, overlooking
an inner court.

The woman said nothing, nor looked either way. She was walking so
softly that the rustling of her silk gown seemed scarcely to catch her
ears. Some figures—I could not tell what from the distance—adorned the
skirt of her dress, and the figured and unfigured parts shaded into
each other like day into night. And the woman was indeed, walking in
the borderland of night and day.

What mystified me was what made her go so persistently to and from
along the verandah, dressed in her long-sleeved gown. Nor had I any
idea of how long she had been at this strange exercise in her strange
attire. There was, of course, no telling of her purpose. This figure of
a woman, appearing and disappearing across the open doorway, repeating
the incomprehensible movements, could not help arousing a singular
feeling in me. Could it be that she was moved by her regret for
the departing Spring, or how could she be so absorbed? If so absorbed,
why should she be dressed in such finery?

That resplendent obi, that stood out so strikingly in the hue of
departing Spring, lingering at the ♦threshold of gathering dusk, could
it be gold brocade? I fancied the bright ornament, moving backward
and forward, enshrouded in the gray of approaching night, was like
glittering stars in the early dawn of a Spring day; that every second
went out one by one, in this distant depth and then in that of the vast
vault of heavens, vanishing gradually into the deepening purple.

  ♦ “threshhold” replaced with “threshold”

Another fancy struck me as the door of night was gradually opening to
swallow into its darkness this flowery vision. Super-nature! this sight
of fading away from the world of colours, with not a sign of regret,
nor of struggle, instead of shining an object of admiration in the
midst of golden screens and silver lights. But there she was with the
shadow of darkness closing in on her, pacing up and down rhythmically,
the very picture of composure, and betraying no disposition to hurry
or dismay, but calmly going over the same ground again and again. If
it be that she knew not the blackness falling upon her, she must
be a creature of extreme innocence. If she knew but did not mind it
as blackness, then, there must be something uncanny about her. Black
must be her native home, and thus may she be resignedly surrendering
her visionary existence to return to her realm of darkness, walking so
leisurely between the seen and unseen worlds. The inevitable blackness
into which the figures adorning her long-sleeves shaded seemed to hint
where she had come from.

My imagination took another turn, bringing before me a vision of a
beautiful person, beautifully sleeping. Sleeping, alive she breathes
herself away into death, without ever awakening. This must break
the heart of those watching anxiously around the bed. If struggling
in pain and agony, the dear ones attending might think it merciful
that death came at once, to say nothing of the wish of the patient
to whom life had become not worth living. But what fault could the
innocent child have been guilty of that she should be snatched away in
a peaceful sleep? To be carried away to Hades while in sleep is like
being betrayed into a surprise and having life taken before the mind
is made up. If death it must be, the dying should be made to resign to
Fate, and one should like to say a prayer or two, yielding to the
inevitable. But if the fact of death alone was made clear, before its
conditions had been fulfilled, and if one had a voice to say a prayer,
one would use that same voice in hallooing, to call, even forcibly
back, the soul that has put one step in the other world. To one passing
away in sleep, it may be hard to have the soul called back, pulled
back, as it were, by the bond of worries of life that would otherwise
break, and that one may feel like saying: “Don’t call me back; let me
sleep.” Nevertheless those around would wish to call aloud. I thought I
might call that woman in the verandah the next time she came into view,
to wake her up from her waking sleep. But my tongue lost its power
of speech no sooner had she passed the opening like a dream. Without
fail, the next time, I thought. But again she passed and disappeared
before I could utter a word. I was asking myself how this could be,
when again she passed, and appeared not to care a rap that she was
being watched by one who was in a frenzied state of mind about her. She
passed and repassed in a manner that told that one like me had never
at all entered her mind. As I was repeating my “next time” in my
mind, the dark cloud above let down, as if no longer able to hold back,
a screen of fine, soft rain, dismally shutting out the shadow of the

                             CHAPTER VII.

Chilly! With a towel in hand I went down stairs for a warm dip. Leaving
my clothes in a small chamber, four more steps downward brought me
into the bath room which was about eight mats in size. Stones appeared
plentiful, in these parts, the floor of the room being paved with fine
granite, as was also the tank and its walls. The reservoir which the
tank really was, was a hollow in the centre of the floor, about four
feet deep and about as many feet square. This was a hot spring which
contained, no doubt, various mineral ingredients; but the water in the
basin was perfectly clear and transparent, and tasteless and without
odour as well, as some finding its way into the mouth testified. The
spring is said to possess medical virtues, but I did not know for what
kind of ailments, as I have not taken the trouble to find out. Nor was
I subject to any chronic disease, and this phase of the matter had
never occurred to me. Only a line of poetry that comes to me, every
time I take a dip is that of the Chinese poet Pai Le-tien:

    “Soft and warm the water of the spring,
     All impurities are cleansed away.”

A mention of a spring awakens in me the pleasant feeling which this
couplet expresses, and I hold that no hot spring deserves to be called
by that name unless it makes one feel that way. This is an ideal, apart
from which I have no demand to make of any hot spring.

Clear up to a little under my chin the pleasant warm water in the tank
reached and was indeed overflowing beautifully on all sides, without
making it known where it was welling up from.

Resting my head, with face upward, on the back of my hands which held
on to the slightly raised side of the tank, I let my body rise up to
the point of least resistance and I felt my soul float buoyantly like
the jelly-fish. Life is easy in this state of existence. You unlock the
door of prudence and cast all desires to the Four Winds, and become
part of the hot water, leaving it completely to the hot water to make
what it likes of you. The more floating, the less is the pain to live
for that which floats. There will be more blessings than to have become
a ♦disciple of Jesus Christ, for one who lets even one’s soul float. At
this rate, even drowning is not without its picturesqueness. I
have forgotten what piece, but I think I remember reading Swinburne,
where the poet depicts a woman rejoicing in her eternal peaceful
rest. Millais’ “Ophelia,” which has ever been a source of sentimental
uneasiness to me, offers also something æsthetic, when viewed in this
light. Why he should have chosen so unpleasant a scene has always been
a puzzle to me; but now I saw that it made an artistic production. A
form, a figure, a look, floating in sweet painlessness, as it were,
whether on the surface, or under water or floating and sinking, is
indisputably æsthetic. With wild flowers judiciously sprinkled on the
banks and the water, the floating one, and the floating one’s dress,
making a harmonious and well arranged ensemble of colours, it will
without fail make a picture. But if the floating one’s expression
were nothing but peace itself, the picture would almost make only
a mythology or an allegory, while convulsive pain will, on the
other hand, destroy the whole effect. The expression of a naive and
care-unknown face will not bring out human sentiments. What kind of a
face should it be to be a success? Millais’ “Ophelia” may be a success;
but I doubt that he is one with me in spirit. However, Millais is
Millais and I am I; and I feel like painting a person drowned. But I
fancied that the face that I wanted would not easily come to me.

  ♦ “diciple” replaced with “disciple”

Buoying myself in the bath, I next tried to make poetry of the
appreciation of the drowned:

    “Will get wet in rain,
     Will be cold in frost,
     Will be dark underground,
     On the wave when floating,
     Under the wave when sunk,
     Will be painless in warm Spring water.”

It was raining outside, the soft, quiet, warm rain of Spring. The
plaintive “twang,” “twang” of a samisen heard at a distance on a night
like this is a peculiarly appealing sound, and it was catching my ear,
as I was humming my extempore song of the drowned. Not that I pretend
to know anything about this particular instrument of string music; in
fact I am rather dubious about my ear being able to tell any difference
of a higher or lower pitch of the second or third string. Nevertheless,
with a gentle mercy-like rain putting me in this fame of mind, and
even my soul lazily sporting in a delightfully pleasant warm bath, it
gladdened my heart to hear floating music, with not a shadow of
care within or without me.

The samisen awoke in me the long-forgotten memories of my boyhood days,
when I used to go out into my father’s garden and sit under three pine
trees, to listen to O-Kura-san, the fair daughter of a saké shop on
the other side of the street, sing and play a samisen on calm Spring

I was lost in living over again the long past, when the door of the
bath room opened. I thought somebody was coming in. Leaving my body
buoyant, I turned my eyes only toward the entrance. I had my head
resting on that part of the tank which was farthest from the entrance
door, so that my eyes covered obliquely the steps leading downward,
about seven yards away from me. Nothing as yet appeared before my
uplifted eyes: my ears caught only the sound of the rain dropping
from the ♦eaves. The plaintive samisen had stopped I did not know when.
Presently something appeared at the head of the steps. There was in
the room a solitary small hanging oil lamp, which, even at its best,
shed but scanty light, to make things clear in their colour; but what,
with the rain outside shutting in the vapours, and the whole place
filled with a cloud of mist, there could be no telling who it was
coming down.

  ♦ “eves” replaced with “eaves”

The dim figure carried its foot a step down; but one might have fancied
that the step stone was velvety smooth and its stepping so noiseless
that it could not have moved at all. The figure became clearer in
outline, and an artist as I am, my perception of the build of a body
is more accurate than you might have thought, so that, the moment it
came a step down, I knew that I was alone with a woman in the bath
room. The woman came fully in view before me as I was debating with
myself whether I should or should not take any notice of her. The next
moment I was lost to all but a beautiful vision. The figure gracefully
straightened itself to its full height, with the soft light of the lamp
playing about the warm light pink of the upper regions, over which hung
a cloud of dark hair. The sight swept away from me all thoughts of
formality, decorum and propriety, my only consciousness then being that
I had before me a superbly beautiful theme.

Be the ancient Greek sculpture what it is, every time I see a nude
picture, which modern French painters make their life of, I miss
something in its unuttered power of impression, because of the
voluptuous extremes to which effort is made in order to bring out the
beauty of the flesh. This feeling has always been a source of mental
uneasiness to me, as I could not answer myself exactly why, pictures of
this class looked low in taste, as I think they do.

Cover the flesh, its beauty disappears; but uncovering makes it base.
The modern art of painting the nude does not stop at the baseness
of uncovering; but not content with merely reproducing the figure
stripped of its clothing, would make the nude shoulder its way into
the world of decorum and ceremony. Forgetting that being wrapped in
clothes is the normal state of human life, they are trying to give
the nude all the rights. They are striving to bring out strongly the
fact of being stark-naked, emphasizing the point excessively, indeed,
over-excessively beyond fullness. Art carried to this extreme debases
itself, in proportion as it coerces one who looks at it. The beautiful
begins, as a rule, to look the less beautiful, the more beautiful it is
struggled to make it appear. This is precisely what, in human affairs,
gives life to the proverb, “fullness is the beginning of waning.”

Care-freeness and innocence generally present something comfortably in
reserve, which latter is an indispensable condition in paintings as in
literature. The great failing of modern art is its labouring in the
mud, which the so-called tide of civilization is depositing everywhere.
The painting of the nude is a good example of it. In Japanese cities
are what are called the geisha, who traffic in their own beauty. These
demi-mondes know not how to express themselves, but are concerned about
how they may look in the eyes of those who come for their company. The
yearly salon catalogues are full of pictures of the nude, who are like
these geisha. They are not only unable to forget that they are naked,
but they are bringing every muscle of their bodies into full play to
show that they are nude.

Not a trace of all that pertains to this vulgar atmosphere was about
the exquisitely beautiful vision before me. To say “being stripped of
clothes” would be descending to the human level; but the vision before
me was as natural as one called into life in a world of snow in the
age of gods, when there was no clothes to wear, nor any sleeves to put
hands through.

Cloud after cloud of vapour rolled and tumbled in the half
transparent light, and a world of trembling rainbows hung in the midst
of which rose a snow white form, shading upward into mistily black
hair. Oh, that dreamy figure!

The two lines that inwardly met at the neck, slanted gracefully
downward over the shoulders, and bent roundly ending in five tapering
fingers. The plump chest heaving and unheaving sent its slow
undulations downward and a pair of well-shaped feet, that supported the
legs carrying the whole weight of the body, easily solved the complex
problem of equipoise and gravitation, presenting a unity so natural, so
gentle, and so free from constraint that the like could nowhere else be

Withal this figure stood before me, not thrust to view like the
ordinary nude, but enveloped in an atmosphere that lends mystery to
everything in it; only suggesting, so to speak, the profound loveliness
of its beauty behind a thin veil. A few scales in a spread of inky
cloud, make one see in fancy the horned monster of a dragon behind
the canvas; such is the power of art and spirit behind it. The vision
before me, was perfect, as art would have it in its atmosphere,
geniality and phantasmality. If it be true that painting carefully
six times six, thirty-six scales of a dragon can only end in a
ludicrousness, there is a psychic charm in gazing not too clearly at
the stark nakedness of a body. When the figure appeared before my eyes
I fancied to see in it a heavenly maiden, fled from the moon, standing
hesitatingly, being hard pressed by the chasing aurora.

The figure gradually rose out of the water, and I feared that a step
more would make it a thing of this fallen world. But just in the nick
of time, the black hair shook like a magician’s wand calling for wind,
and the snowy vision swept through the whirling cloud of steam and flew
up the steps to the door-way. A moment later a woman’s ringing chuckle
sounded on the other side of the door, leaving dying echoes behind
in the still quiet of the bath room. The agitated water of the tank
washing over my face, I stood on my feet, and its waves beat me about
my chest. The water overflowed from the bath with a noise.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

I had tea, with a priest named Daitetsu, the abbot of Kaikanji temple,
and a lay-youth of about twenty-four years, as my fellow-guests, and
Nami-san’s father, of course as mine host, in his own room. Nami-san is
the name of the O-Jo-san of Shiota.

The room was one of about six mats, but looked rather small and narrow,
with a large square short-legged rose-wood table in the centre. The
table stood partly on a Chinese rug and partly on a tiger skin, which
together nearly filled the floor of the room. The youth and I squatted
cross-legged on the rug, and the priest and the host on the skin. There
was something undeniably continental in the rug, with a crazy sort of
appearance in its figures, as is the case with most things Chinese.
But that is where their value resides. You gaze at Chinese furniture
and ornaments. You think they are dull or grotesque; but presently
you become conscious that there is in that dullness or grotesqueness
something that has a power of fascinating you irresistibly, and
that is what makes them precious. Japan produces her art goods
with the attitude of a pickpocket; and the West is large in scale and
fine in execution, but inalterably worldly and practical. A train of
thought of some such trend was coursing in me as I sat down, with the
youth sharing the rug.

The tiger skin, on which the priest sat, had its tail stretched out
near my knees, and its head under mine host, who seemed to have had
all his grey hair pulled out of his head and planted in his cheeks and
chin. Whiskers and beard were growing rampantly in a striking contrast
to the shiny smoothness of his uppermost regions. He, the host, lay
on the table tea things, not the ♦paraphernalia for stiff ceremonial
powdered tea drinking, but just for sipping clear green tea.

  ♦ “paraphelnalia” replaced with “paraphernalia”

“We have a guest in the house—we haven’t had one for quite a while—and
I thought, we should have a quiet tea party....” said the old man
turning toward the priest.

“Thank you for your invitation. I have not called on you for weeks, and
was thinking I should come down to see you today.” The priest looked
about sixty years old, with a ♦rotund face, that would do credit to a
picture of Bodhidharma in a congenial mood. He seemed to be a
friend of mine host of long standing.

  ♦ “rotand” replaced with “rotund”

“Is this gentleman your guest?”

Nodding his head in acknowledgment, the old gentleman took up a kyusu
tea-pot and poured—no—permitted a few drops of yellowish green liquid
to trickle, in turns, into four tea cups, producing faint echoes of
pure sweet flavour on my olfactory organ.

“You must feel lonesome, alone in a country place like this?” The
priest began to speak to me.

“Haa,” I answered in a most equivocal sort of way; for a “yes” would
have told a lie; but if I said “no,” it would have required a long
string of explanations.

“No, Osho-san,” interposed my host “this gentleman has come out here
for painting. He is even keeping himself busy.”

“Oh, so, that is good. Of the Nanso school?”

“No, Osho-san,” I replied this time. I thought he would not understand,
if I said oil painting, and I did not say so.

“No”, the old one again took it upon himself to complete information,
“his is that oil painting.”

“Ah, I see, the Western painting, which Kyuichi-san, here works
at? I saw the kind, for the first time, in his production; it was very
beautifully done.”

The young one opened his mouth at length and most diffidently asserted
that “It was a poor affair.”

“You showed some of your stuff to Osho-san?” asked the old man. Judging
by the tone in which this was said and the attitude assumed by the old
one towards the young, they would seem to be relatives.

“No, it was only that I was caught painting by the Osho-sama at
Kagamiga Ike pond, the other day.”

“Hum, is that so? Well, here is a cup of tea for you,” said the host,
placing a cup each before his guests. There were a few drops of tea
in, though the cups were quite large. They were dark grey in colour
outside, with a yellowish picture or design on them, delightfully
tasteful, but the name of their maker was quite undecipherable.

“It is Mokubey’s,” briefly explained the old gentleman.

“This is very interesting,” I complimented briefly also.

“There are many imitations in Mokubeys. These have the inscription;
look at the base,” says the host.

I took up my cup and held it towards the semi-transparent shoji. On
the screen was seen a potted “haran” plant casting its shadow warmly.
I looked into the base twisting my head, and saw there “Mokubey”
burnt in diminutively. Inscriptions are not indispensables for real
connoisseurs; but amateurs seem, generally, very sensitively particular
about them. I brought the cup to my lips, instead of putting it back
on the table. Leisurely lovers of real good tea rise to the seventh
heaven, when, drop, drop, they let the correctly drawn aromatic liquid
roll on the tip of their tongues. Ordinarily, people think that tea is
to be drunk; but that is not correct. A drop on your tongue; something
refreshing spreads over it, you have practically nothing more to send
down your throat, except that a delightfully soothing flavour travels
down the alimentary canal into the stomach. It is vulgar to bring the
teeth to service; but pure fresh water is too light. “Gyokuro” tea is
thicker than water, but not heavy enough for the molar action. It is a
fine beverage. If the objection be that tea robs one of sleep, then I
should say “better be without sleep than be without tea.” In the
midst of my usual philosophical musing, the priest spoke to me again.

“Can you paint in oil on fusuma?(27) If you can, I should like to have
some painted.”

If the priest would have me do it, I may not refuse; but that it
would please him was not at all certain, and I should hate to retire
crestfallen, by having it declared that an oil painting is no good,
after I had spared no labour for its execution.

“I do not think oil paintings will go well on a fusuma.”

“You do not think so? You are probably right. What I have seen of
Kyuichi-san’s production will make me think that it will look perhaps
too gay on a fusuma.”

“Mine is no good. It was an idle piece of work,” says the youth with a
stress on his words, ♦apologetically and abashedly.

  ♦ “apologically” replaced with “apologetically”

“Where is that what-do-you-call-it pond?” I asked the youth for my

“In the hollow of valley just in the rear of Kaikanji temple. It is a
quiet lonely place. That picture.... I took lessons in school ... I
just tried it to while away the time.”

“And that Kaikanji?”

“Kaikanji is the name of a temple in my charge. It is a fine place,
with the sea stretching from right under you. You must come and see me,
while you are here. It is not more than a mile from here. From that
verandah ... there you can see its stone steps.”

“♦Won’t I make myself unwelcome by ♠calling on you any time to please

  ♦ “Wont” replaced with “Won’t”
  ♠ “caling” replaced with “calling”

“Decidedly not; you will always find me in. O-Jo-san of this house pays
me visits quite often. Speaking of the O-Jo-san, O-Nami-san does not
seem to be around, today. Anything the matter with her, Shiota-san?”

“Has she gone out? Has she been your way, Kyuichi?”

“No, uncle; we haven’t seen her around.”

“Out on one of her solitary walks, again, perhaps. Ha, ha, ha.
O-Nami-san is pretty strong-legged. A clerical business took me down
to Tonami the other day. About Sugatami bridge I thought I saw one
very like her, and it was she. She almost sprang on me, taking me by
surprise, with one of her outbursts: ‘Why are you dragging along, so,
Osho-san? Where are you going?’ She was in her pair of straw sandals,
with her skirt tucked up. ‘Where have you been in that attire?’ I
asked her. ‘I have been picking marsh-parsley; you shall have some.’
Saying this, she took out a handful of unwashed mud-covered plants and
pushed it down my sleeve. Ha, ha, ha.”

“That girl did!” said that girl’s father with one of the grimmest of
smiles, and seized the first opportunity to change the topic, by taking
down from rose-wood book case something heavy looking in a damask silk
bag. He informed us that the bag contained an ink-stone, that once
belonged to Rai Sanyo, as one of desk stationeries most treasured by
that famous poet-historian and ♦scholar-calligrapher of generations ago.
This naturally led to a critical discussion of autographs of Shunsui,
Kyohei, Sanyo, Sorai, etc. The ink-stone brought to view at last drew
forth admiration from the priest, who was infatuated with the “eyes”
and the irridescent colour of the stone. It went without saying that
the ink-stone was originally imported from China.

  ♦ “scholar-caligrapher” replaced with “scholar-calligrapher”

“A stone like this must be rare even in China, Shiota-san?”


“I should like to have one like this. May I ask you to get me one,
Kyuichi-san?” ventured the abbot.

“He, he, he, I might be killed before I found one,” retorted the youth.

“Hoi, I am forgetting, it is no time to talk of getting an ink-stone
and things of that kind. By-the-by, when do you start?”

“I leave here in a few days, Osho-sama.”

“You should go down to Yoshida, to see him off, old man.”

“I am getting on in years and ordinarily I should excuse myself. But
this time we may part never to meet again, and I am resolved to go down
to see him off.”

“No, uncle, you must not take trouble to go down to Yoshida for me.”

I now felt sure that the youth was really a nephew of mine host. I even
saw some resemblance between them.

“You must not say so. You should let your uncle see you off. A
river-boat will take him down there in no time. Isn’t that so

“Yes. Crossing the mountain will be some job, but by taking a boat,
though a little detour....”

The youth did not decline this time; but remained silent.

“Are you going to China?” I ventured to ask.


The ♦monosyllable left me musing that he might not be the worse for a
few more; but I felt no particular necessity to dig, and I held my
peace. I noticed that the shadow of “haran” had changed its position.

  ♦ “monosylable” replaced with “monosyllable”

“Well, gentleman, you see the present war—he was formerly with the
colours in one year service—and he has been called out to join his old

My old host volunteered in his nephew’s place to let me understand
that the youth was destined to leave for Manchuria in a day or two. I
had thought that there was only feathered songsters to listen to, only
flowers to see fall, only hot spring to warble forth in this dreamy
land of poetry in a mountain bosom, in peaceful Spring. Alas, the
living world had come crossing the sea and mountain and oozing into
this home of a forgotten tribe, and the time may come when a small
fraction of blood making a crimson sea of bleak Manchuria may flow from
this youth’s arteries. This very youth is sitting next to an artist who
sees nothing worth seeing in human life but dreaming. He sits so near
that the artist may hear his heart throb. In that throb may be
resounding even now, the tide rolling high in a plain hundreds of miles
away. Fate has accidentally brought these two together in a room, but
tells nothing else, nor gives the reason why.

                              CHAPTER IX.

“Studying?” asked a woman’s voice outside my door. On returning to my
room, I took out one of the books I had brought, tied to my tripod, and
was reading it.

“Go right ahead, Sensei, don’t mind me,” said the voice before I
gave any answer, and its owner walked right into my room with no
conventionality whatever.

A shapely neck, looking all the more fair because of the subdued colour
of the part of kimono protecting its lower half, it was this charming
contrast that struck my eye, as the woman sat before me.

“A foreign book? Full of hardy, knotty problems, I suppose, Sensei?”

“No, not quite.”

“Then, what is it all about?”

“Well, to be honest, I do not know well enough to tell you.”

“Ho, ho, ho, and yet you are studying?”

“I am not studying. I put it on the desk, open it at random, and just
skim the open page. That is all.”

“Does that sort of thing interest you?”



“How? Why, that is the most interesting way of reading novels.”

“You are so odd, Sensei.”

“Yes, I should say I am rather.”

“Why should you not read them from the beginning?”

“If you begin to read from the beginning, you will have to read to the
end, don’t you see?”

“How absurdly you talk. There can be nothing wrong in reading through a

“No, of course not. If it is to read the plot, I, also shall do so.”

“What else is there to read, if not the plot?”

She is after all a woman, I thought, and felt like testing her.

“Do you like novels?”

“I?” She made a pause after the word, and then said ambiguously: “Well
in a way.” She seemed not to care much about novel-reading.

“Perhaps you are not sure yourself that you like or you do not like

“What difference does it make if one likes or not likes novels?”
Novels seemed to have no claim to existence in her mind.

“It would not matter, then, if one read them from the beginning or from
the end, or from any page one happened to open. I should think, you
need not be so curious about my way of reading.”

“But you and I are different.”

“In what way, please.” I looked into the woman’s eyes, thinking, I was
testing her. But they spoke nothing.

“Ho, ho, ho, you don’t see?”

“But you must have read a good many in your younger days?” I made a
little detour, instead of keeping straight to my point.

“I am still young—at least in heart—you unkind man.” The falcon I let
off was once more going astray to miss the prey: she would let me have
no chance. But I managed to bring her back on the track by retorting:
“Being able to say that sort of thing in the face of a man, you must be
counted among the not young.”

“Arn’t you, who say that, also well up in age? And you mean to say that
you still delight in reading of love, Cupid and all that kind of trash?”

“Yes, they are delightful and will not cease to interest me even
till my last hour.”

“Well I declare! That is how you can give yourself up to a profession
like yours, I suppose?”

“Precisely so. Because I am an artist, I have no need to read through
novels from the beginning to the end. But they interest me no matter
what part I read. It delights me to talk with you, so much so that
I should be glad to be all the time talking with you, while I am
here. If you would have it, I have not the slightest objection, on my
part, to falling incandescently, in love with you. That would be most
interesting. But, however intensely in love, there is no need that we
should become husband and wife. One must need read through novels from
the beginning to the end, as long as one feels the necessity of love
ending in a marriage.”

“The artist is, then, he who makes an inhuman love?”

“Not inhuman but unhuman. The plots of novels do not count at all,
because we read them unhumanly. You see, I open the book thus, as in a
lottery drawing, and I read the first page that lies flat before me.
And there is the charm of the thing.”

“That does sound interesting. Then I wish you would tell
me something of what you are reading. I should like to know how
interesting it really is.”

“To tell you would not do. Don’t you see, the charm of a picture would
all be gone, if you simply made a narration of it.”

“Ho, ho, ho, read it to me, then, please.”

“In English?”

“No, in Japanese.”

“It would be a job to read English in Japanese.”

“It would be lovely, being so unhuman.”

A fun for the while, I thought, and began to read the book in Japanese,
with stops and pauses. If there was an unhuman way of reading, mine was
certainly it, and the woman was listening also unhumanly.

“‘An aura of tenderness rose from the woman,—from her voice, from
her eyes, from her skin. The woman went to the stern helped by the
man. Did she go there to have a look at Venice, now enshrouded in the
evening dusk? And the man, did he help her to feel lightning flashes
in his blood on his side?’—Mind, it is all unhuman, and don’t look for
accuracy. I may make skips, too.”

“I ♦won’t mind a bit, Sensei; you may add in something of your own
if you like.”

  ♦ “wont” replaced with “won’t”

“‘The woman was leaning against the gunwale by the side of the man,
with a distance between them narrower than her ribbons, which the wind
was playing with. The Doge of Venice was now vanishing in light red
like the second sunset....’”

“What is the Doge, Sensei?”

“It doesn’t matter what that means. However, it is the name of the man
who long ago ruled over Venice. I don’t know how many Doges succeeded
one another. Anyhow their palace has outlived them and may still be
seen in Venice.”

“Who are that man and woman?”

“God only knows, and that is why it is so interesting. You need not
bother yourself about what their relations have been. I find them
together just like you and I here. There is something interesting,
don’t you see, just for the occasion?”

“As you please. They seem to be in a boat.”

“On land or in water, it is just as it is written. You will make a
detective of yourself, if you press for ‘why’.”

“Ho, ho, ho, I will not ask you then.”

“Ordinary novels are all inventions of detectives and denuded of
unhumanity they are all so insipid.”

“Good, then, tell me more of unhumanity. What follows next, please?”

“‘Venice is sinking, sinking to a faint single streak of line. The line
dwindles into dots. Here and there pillars stand in an opal sky, last
of all the highest towering belfry sinks. It has sunk, says the friend.
The woman, who has come away from Venice is free like the wind of the
sky in her heart. But the thought that she must come back to Venice,
which has disappeared, fills her heart with the anguish of bondage. The
man and woman direct their eyes toward the darkening bay. The stars are
increasing. The sea is softly undulating without any foam. The man took
the woman’s hand in his, feeling like one holding a bow-string that has
not yet stopped vibrating.’”

“That does not seem to sound very unhuman.”

“But you can hear it as unhuman. If you don’t like it, I shall skip a

“Oh, no, I am all right.”

“If you are all right, why, I am a great deal more all right. Now, let
me see—it is getting so bungling—it is so awkward to trans—I mean, to

“You may cut it out, if it be so bothering.”

“No, I shall go it rough—‘This one night, says the woman. One
night? asks the man. Say, many, many nights; it is heartless to limit
it to a single night.’”

“Who says that, the man or the woman?”

“The man, O-Nami-san, I think the woman does not want to go back to
Venice, and the man is saying this to console her—‘In the memory of
the man, who lay down on the midnight deck with his head on a coil of
halyard, that instant—an instant like a hot drop of blood,—that instant
in which he tightly held the woman’s hand in his, tossed like a great
wave. Looking up into the black night, he resolved, come what may, to
save the woman from the brink of forced marriage. With his mind made
up, he closed his eyes....’”

“The woman?”

“‘Lost on the road, the woman seemed not to know whither she was
wandering. Like a man sailing in the sky a captive, unfathomable
mystery....’—the rest is so awkward to read, you see, it does not
complete the sentence—‘only the unfathomable mystery’—isn’t there any

“Never mind a verb. Sensei, you don’t want any verb; that is quite


All of a sudden a rumbling sound came, and all the trees on the
mountain spoke. We looked at each other, not knowing why, and saw a
solitary spray of camellia in a small vessel on my desk swinging.

“An earthquake!” Nami-san brought herself right up against my desk,
with a break in her pose, as she said this, and our bodies were
oscillating, almost touching each other. A pheasant—a bird credited
with super-human sensitiveness for seismic phenomena—flew out of the
bamboo bush, making a sharp noise with the flapping of its wings.

“A pheasant,” I said looking out of the window.

“Where?” said the woman with another break in her posture, bringing
herself closer to me. She was so near me that our heads were almost in
contact with each other. I felt on my moustaches breaths coming out of
her gentle nostrils.

“Remember, all unhumanity!” said the woman unequivocally as she quickly
corrected her pose.

“Of course,” I responded promptly.

A pool of water in the hollow of a rock in the garden was
agitating in alarm; but that body of water moving from the very bottom
as a whole, there was no break in the surface but irregular curves.
If there be such an expression as moving “full roundly,” it fitted
exactly, I thought, the condition of this pool of water. A wild cherry
tree, which had its shadow cast peacefully in the pool, now stretched
out of all shape, now shrivelled up, then wriggled and twisted. For all
those contortions, it was most interesting to observe that the tree
never failed to appear the cherry tree it was.

“This is delightful. There is beauty and variation. Motion must be of
this sort to be interesting.”

“Man will be all right as long as his motion is of this sort, no matter
how hard he moves.”

“You cannot move like this unless you are unhuman.”

“Ho, ho, ho, how deeply in love you are with unhumanity, Sensei!”

“Nor can you deny that you are not without partiality for it, after
your bridal gown show yesterday?” I made a lunge.

She parried by saying sweetly with a coquettish smile: “A nice reward

“What for, my young lady?”

“You wished to see, and so I took the trouble to get up the show for

“I wished?”

“A Sensei of painting who had come up crossing the mountain, took the
trouble, I am told, to ask the old woman of a humble tea house on the
mountain pass to let him see me in my wedding gown.”

This came so unexpectedly that I was out of a ready answer. Nor did the
woman give me any chance, she quickly came down on me:

“All obliging, however sincere, can only be lost on a man so
forgetful,” came in mocking reproach, like a frontal blow. I was
beginning to get the worst of it, being at her mercy, unable to catch
up with the start she had of me.

  ♦ “beginnig” replaced with “beginning”

“That bath tank show, last night, was then, also out of your kindness?”
I narrowly managed to regain my ground.

She made no reply.

“A thousand pardons for being so ungrateful. What would you command of
me in penance?” I went forward as far as I could in anticipation; but
in vain. She kept on looking up to the framed ♦calligraphy of the
priest, Daitetsu, as if she saw and heard nothing. Presently she read
it in a soft murmur:

  ♦ “caligraph” replaced with “calligraphy”

“Shadow of bamboo sweeping no dust rises.” Now she turned right round
to me and said as if she suddenly came back to herself:

“What did you say, Sensei?”

She said it with a studied loudness; but I was not to be caught.

“I met that priest a while ago.” I set myself in motion for her
benefit, imitating the “full round” movement of the earthquake shaken
pool of water.

“The Osho-san of Kaikanji? He is quite stout, isn’t he?”

“He asked me if I would paint in oil on his paper screen! Those Zen
priests are full of absurdities, arn’t they?”

“Probably that is why they get so fat.”

“I also met another, a young man.”

“Kyuichi, you mean.”

“Yes Kyuichi-san.”

“You seem to know so well.”

“No, I know Kyuichi-san only by name, but nothing else about him. He
seems to hate moving his lips.”

“No, he is little shy, that is all. He is a mere boy.”

“A boy? Isn’t he of about the same age as you?”

“Ho, ho, ho, you think so? He is a cousin of mine. He is going to the
front, and came to say good-bye.”

“Is he stopping here?”

“No, he is staying with my brother.”

“I see. He came to take a cup of tea, then?”

“He likes ordinary hot water better than tea. But my father would have
him. Poor thing, he must have had a hard half hour of it. I would have
let him go before the party rose, if I were there.”

“Where have you been? The priest was asking after you—if you were out
again on one of your lonely walks?”

“Yes, I was. I made a round of Kagamiga Ike pond and neighbourhood.”

“I should myself like to go and see that pond.”

“Do, by all means, Sensei.”

“Will it make a good picture?”

“It is a good place for drowning yourself.”

“I have no idea of ending my life in water for some time to come.”

“I may, before long.”

Too bold a joke for a woman, and I looked up into her eyes. She seemed
quite sound, more herself than I expected.

“Won’t you paint for me, Sensei, a picture of myself, drowned and
floating in water,—not struggling and in agony—but a nice little
picture of me floating in easy, painless eternal repose.”

  ♦ “Wont” replaced with “Won’t”


“Thunder and lightning, you are astonished?”

Nami-san got to her feet lightly and three steps brought her to the
opening of my room. She turned back and threw at me the most innocent
of her smiles, as she walked out of it. For a long time I sat immobile
as one lost in reverie.

                              CHAPTER X.

My curiosity brought me, the next day, to the Kagamiga Ike, a pool of
water, not more than half a mile in circumference, by an actual survey,
but looking immeasurably larger, when seen through openings in the
brushwood, embowering its zigzag water-edge. I left it to my feet to
take me where they liked, and I stopped when they came to a halt at a
spot close to and falling into water, determined not to move till I
got sick of it. Lucky that I could indulge in a whim like this; for in
Tokyo I would be run over by a tram car, if not sternly chased away
by a policeman. Ah! the city is a place where they make a beggar of a
peaceful citizen, and pay a high salary to detectives who are all but
boss pickpockets!

I sat on a damp cushion, which I found in incipient Spring grass,
satisfied that I was in the bosom of nature, where neither wealth nor
power could disturb me, and where I could heartily laugh at the folly
of Timon’s wrath. I then took out and lighted a cigarette, and as a
streak of smoke from the match took the shape of a dragon with
its tail tapering to a line, and vanished in a moment, I drew nearer
to the water edge. I looked into the clear and placid water of the
pond and saw some slender weeds reposing as in eternal peace in its
not necessarily unfathomable depth. Unlike the shear grass on the bank
which moved in the breeze, the weeds down in the bottom were doomed, I
fancied, never to stir till their surrounding water moved in ripples,
an event, which in all appearance, seemed never to come. Possessed
of willingness to be animate, but imprisoned in the watery dungeon,
they appeared to have been waiting in vain, morning after morning, and
evening after evening, for an opportunity to be sported with, and eking
out a life of forced immobility, unable to die. I picked up a couple of
pebbles and dropped one of them into the water. I saw a couple or three
of the thin stalks of weeds move wearily, as some bubbles came up to
the surface; but the next moment more bubbles hid them from sight, as
if they must not be seen in motion. I threw in the other pebble, with
some force this time; but the poor resigned thing would not respond to
my efforts to awaken them, and I left the place and walked a little way
up the slow incline.

A huge tree stood over my new position of vantage, screening me from
the sun and making me feel chilly. Near the water’s edge, on the other
side of the pond, was an overhanging camellia tree in full bloom. There
is something very heavy and dull in the green of camellia leaves, even
when seen in the sunshine, and I would have never known this particular
plant but for its blood red flowers, which are never attractive, though
fiery and striking. I never look at camellia flowers in a deep forest
or mountain without wishing that I had not seen them; their red is not
a common red, but a red with something weird in it like a she-demon
in a fair woman’s mask, who fascinates you with her black eyes and
beauty and breathes poison into your pores before you know it. The pear
blossoms in rain never fail to arouse a sentiment of pity; the aronia
in pale moon light awakens love; but the camellia’s cheerless red
be-speaks a dark poison and something ominous.

As I was looking at those dark red flowers, as if under a spell, one of
them fell into the water below, absolutely the only thing in motion in
the still Spring day. Presently another dropped. The eerie thing
about the camellia flower is that it never breaks up when it falls, as
do most other flowers, but keeps compactly together, never to let its
secret out, as it were. But one more fell, followed by another, after
an interval, by still another, and still another, like the minute gun.
Surely, I thought, the whole surface of the pond would turn red, by
and by. I fancied the water looked slightly reddish already where the
flowers were floating. Would they ever sink? Their red would melt, they
would rot, become mud and fill up the pool, until there would be no
more Kagamiga Ike, but a dry land after thousands of years. Hoy! one
more extra-big blood red flower fell, and drop, drop, drop, followed by
others, never ceasing to pass into eternity.

I now became seized with a queer idea, how it would look to paint a
pond like this, with a beautiful woman floating in its water. I went
back to the spot where I first stopped and there continued to think
on the imaginary picture. Then with a tingling sensation, rushed back
to my memory, the joking remark of Nami-san of the hot spring hotel,
yesterday, that she should like to have me paint her dead, but floating
with a pleasant face in the water. Suppose, I thought, I made her
float in the water under that camellia. I wondered if I could make my
brush tell that the blood red flowers were forever dropping, dropping,
dropping into the water on her, and she was forever lying in her watery
bed, in her eternal peaceful repose. But it was no easy matter, I told
myself, to give expression to the idea of super-human eternity, without
rising above the level of mortal humanity.

Besides, the greatest difficulty lay in the choice of the face.
Nami-san, with her usual expression of a discordant mixture of
derision, impetuosity and soft heart, would never do, I thought. The
face must bear no trace of mental or physical agony; but one with
effulgent light-heartedness would be worse. Perhaps I had better borrow
another woman’s face; but the racking of my head revealed to me none
to fit my imaginary picture, so that I felt that it must be Nami-san,
after all. Yet there was something lacking in her to suit my purpose,
and the tantalising part of it was how to make up for that something,
it being impossible to work my whilom fancy into it to fill up what
was lacking. How would it do to give the face a touch of jealousy?
But that would make it look too uneasy. How about hatred, then?
That would again be too strong. Anger? No, it would spoil the whole
effect. Resentment for some particular cause is sometimes poetical and
acceptable; but as an every day feeling, it is too commonplace.

I thought and thought and thought, and it suddenly flashed upon me that
what was missing from Nami-san was pity and compassion. Compassion is
a feeling unknown to the gods, and yet is one that makes man as near
gods as possible. This was one sentiment which I had never yet seen
reflected in Nami-san, and I was convinced that my picture would become
an accomplished fact, the moment I saw it aroused by some impulse or
other and flashed across her handsome face. For the moment, however, I
had absolutely no idea as to when or if ever, I should have the good
fortune to see it in her.

A bantering sort of smile and a knitted brow bespeaking an eager desire
to get the better of you are the ever constant features of her face
and nothing can be done with them only. Hark! A rustling sound as of
somebody wading through dry leaves came, and the mental plan of my
picture, two-thirds of which I had finished forming went to pieces.
Looking up, I saw a man in tight sleeved kimono, loaded with some
faggots on his back, coming through the creeping bamboo growths towards
the Kaikanji, apparently from the neighbouring hill.

“Fine weather, Sir,” said the man to me, taking off a towel from his
head. He made a bow, and as he did so, a flash from a sharpened ♦hatchet,
stuck in his belt, caught my eyes. He was a sturdily built men of
about forty, with a face I remembered seeing somewhere. He spoke to me

“Danna paints, too?” I had my colour-box open by me.

  ♦ “hachet” replaced with “hatchet”

“Yes, I have come out here, thinking I might make a picture of this
pond. This is a very lonely place; nobody comes round.”

“Yes, it is very much in the mountain.... Danna, you had a time of it
in rain, on that pass. I am sure, it was a bad toiling along you had
that time.”

“Eh? why, yes, you are the mago-san I saw, then?”

“Yes. I gather faggots as you see and take them down to the town to
sell.” Gembey took his load down from his back and sat on it. His hand
brought out a tobacco pouch, a very ancient affair, that refused
to tell whether it was of leather or of imitation leather. I gave him a
lighted match and said:

“It must be a great job for you to cross a place like that, every day?”

“No, Danna, I am used to it. Besides I don’t do it every day, but only
once in three days, and sometimes four days.”

“For myself, I should be excused even for once in four days.”

“Aha, ha, ha, ha. It is hard on my pony, and I generally make it four
days or so.”

“That is, you think more of your horse than yourself, eh? Ha, ha, ha,

“Not quite that....”

“By the way, this pond looks very old. Have you any idea, how old it

“This has been here from olden times.”

“From olden times? How old?”

“Well, from a very long time ago.”

“From a very long time ago, I see.”

“A very long time ago, anyway, from the time when the Jo-sama of Shiota
threw herself into it.”

“Shiota? That spa-hotel you mean?”


“You say the O-Jo-san drowned herself here? But she is alive, very
much alive there?”

“No, not that Jo-sama, but a Jo-sama of long, long ago.”

“Long, long ago? About when?”

“Well, a Jo-sama of very great long ago....”

“What made that Jo-sama of so long ago throw herself into water?”

“That Jo-sama was, it is said, as beautiful as the present Jo-sama,


“One day there came along a bonroji....”

“Bonroji? You mean that begging minstrel that used to come round of
old, playing his ‘shakuhachi’ pipe?”

“Yes, that ‘shakuhachi’ bonroji. While this bonroji was stopping at
Squire Shiota’s house, the beautiful Jo-sama took a fancy to him. Would
you call it fate or what? Anyhow, she said she must have him, and

“Cried? You don’t say!”

“But the Squire would not have a bonroji for his son-in-law, and drove
away the party.”

“Drove away the bonroji?”

“Yes. The Jo-sama ran out of the house after him, and coming here, she
threw herself into the water from where that yonder pine tree is
standing. The whole place went into an awful excitement then. It is
said that the young Jo-sama had, at the time, a mirror with her, and
the pond has since come to be called Kagamiga Ike. We still call this
the Mirror Pond.”

“Oh, the pond has made a grave, already, at least for one person?”

“A very scandalous affair, indeed.”

“This was about how many Squires back, do you know?”

“It is said to be a very long time back, and ... it is between you and
I, Danna-san.”


“Every generation has had its mad one born in that Shiota family.”


“A curse must be on that house. They are all saying that the present
Jo-sama is getting queer of late.”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha. That seems improbable.”

“You don’t think so? But let me tell you that her mother had a touch of
it, too.”

“Is the old lady there?”

“No, she died last year.”

“Hum,” I said, looking at a thin cord of smoke rising from live
tobacco ashes, Gembey emptied on the ground, and then closed my mouth.
The man went away with the faggots on his back.

I had come out on my unhuman tour to do some painting. But what with
my thinking and musing, what with being made to listen to old tales, I
knew there would be no picture, no matter how many days I might be at
it. This very day I was at the pond with my colour-box and tripod, and
I thought I owed it to myself to make a picture of the place, somehow
or other. I sat on my tripod and began to make a visual survey of the
pool and its surroundings, to make up my mind, on how much of the
scenery I should take into my picture. I knew my materials were pine
trees, giant-leaved creeping bamboos, rocks and a mirror-like pool of

The question was, how much of them should be covered in my canvas. The
creeping bamboos were growing quite close to the edge of the water,
and some of the rocks were ten feet high, while the pine trees were
scraping the sky and cast their shadows into the water far and long, so
much so that I could not see how I might take them all on my canvas.
I had half made up my mind that I should paint only the reflections
of the waters in the pond, feeling almost certain that the novel
idea would astonish the people. But then the astonishment must be
one arising from the sense of admiration and appreciation for the
substantial artistic value of the production. How to solve this part
of the problem occupied my attention next. Naturally, my eyes directed
themselves, to the reflections in the pond.

Strangely enough no definite picture would come from the study of
shadows only, and it was irresistible that I should try to make
something by following the watery reflections back to their originals
on land. My eyes were closely studying the ten foot rock, from its
lowest point in the water to its body above, when I felt myself under
the spell of a fairy’s wand, just as they had travelled to the summit
of the cliff. I saw there a face in the struggling rays of setting sun
that stole through the leafy screen and were faintly falling on the
darkish top of the rock, the face of the woman, who had surprised me
as a midnight shadow, or a vision, who had surprised me in her wedding
gown, and had surprised me outside the bath-room! My eyes refused to
turn elsewhere, as if rooted to the centre of the pale face of the
woman who was standing fixedly on the rock, gently straightening
herself up to her full height. Oh! that instant! I jumped on my feet.
But the apparition had vanished, nimbly hopping down the other side of
the rock and as she did so, I thought I perceived something red which
resembled the camellia in her sash. The declining sun, slanting closely
over tree tops, was faintly dyeing the trunks of the great pines, and
below the creeping bamboos looked greener than ever. I was once more
taken by surprise.

                              CHAPTER XI.

That night I gave myself up to renewing my acquaintance with the
priest, Daitetsu, by calling on him at Kaikanji temple, at the top of
the stone steps. The old priest received me, not effusively but with a
most cordial welcome.

“I am glad you have come. You must find life very tedious in these

“The beautiful moon lured me out for a walk, and my feet brought me
here, to be plain, Osho-san.”

“Yes, the moon is beautiful to-night.”

The priest said this as he slid open the front shoji of his chamber.
The garden outside had nothing in it but two stepping stones and a
single pine tree; but beyond extended a stretch of sea, dimly visible
in the moonlight, with fishermen’s lights innumerably dotting the
watery surface as far as the horizon, where they seemed to change into

“What a beautiful view, Osho-san. Isn’t it a pity that you should keep
it shut out?”

“True; but don’t you see, it is not new to me, it being there
before me every night?”

“I should never be tired of looking over a view like this. I should
give up my sleep to be looking at it the whole night.”

“Ha, ha, ha, you are an artist and different from an old priest like

“But Osho-san, you are not the less an artist, as long as you see the
beautiful and enjoy it.”

“That is so, though my artistic skill does not rise above drawing an
apology of Bodhidharma. Speaking of Bodhidharma, you see a picture
of the holy man in the niche there; it is from the brush of my
predecessor, here. Pretty good, isn’t it?”

True enough, there was a hanging picture of Bodhidharma which had
absolutely no claim to any artistic value, except that it was a very
innocent production, which gave no evidence of trying to hide the
artist’s want of skill.

“Why, it is artlessly good.”

“There need be no more about pictures that our kind make. We are well
satisfied as long as they represent our spirit.”

“They are far better than pictures that bespeak skill but breathe base

“Ha, ha, ha, you know how to praise things. By the by is there the
degree of Doctor for painters, these days?”

“No, Osho-san, there is no Doctor of Painting.”

“You see I am so far away from civilization and know nothing of the
latest novelties. I haven’t been in Tokyo not even once in the last
twenty years.”

“You have missed nothing, Osho-san. It is all noise and nothing else in

The priest treated me to a good cup of tea, and then went on to ask:

“You seem to go about a great deal. Do you do so all for the purpose of

“Well, I carry about with me my painting outfit; but I am not at all
particular about the actual painting itself.”

“So? Can it be, then, that you are travelling and sojourning for the
pleasure of doing so?”

“Well, you might say so. But the fact is I can’t stand the life in
Tokyo. They begin to sniff about you, when you have lived there any
length of time.”

“That is strange. Can it be for sanitary purposes?”

“No, Osho-san, it is the detective that does it.”

“Detectives? The police then? The police stations and policemen,
must there be such things?”

“They are useless, at least, to artists.”

“Nor are they of any good to me. I have never had any occasion to be
taken care of by them.”

“I do not doubt you.”

“For that matter I don’t see why you should take their sniffing so
much to heart. If I were you I would let them do all the sniffing they
want. Even the police won’t bother you as long as you keep straight.
My predecessor used to tell me that a man must be able to make a clean
breast of everything within him in broad daylight at Nihonbashi, the
centre of Tokyo, and to find nothing to be ashamed of in it. Till then,
he cannot be said to have finished his culture. You, my young friend,
should strive to reach that stage of culture. Then you shall have no
need of fleeing from Tokyo.”

“You can rise to that height as soon as you shall have become a true

“You had become one, then.”

“But the police sniffing is more than I can bear.”

“There, there, you are at it again. Look at that Nami-san of the hot
spring hotel. She was tormented by all kinds of worrying thoughts
on coming home to her father after being divorced from her husband,
until she at last came to me, asking me, to free her from her mental
anguish. I have been training her in the holy teaching, and she is now
mastering herself wonderfully. You have seen yourself what a highly
rational young woman she is.”

“Yes, yes, I have thought she is a woman of no ordinary culture,

“Indeed, she is not. A few years ago I had under me a young disciple
named Taian. She saved him from walking off the narrow path, and he is
now on a fair way to attain high priesthood.”

                             CHAPTER XII.

It was Oscar Wilde, if I remember right, who said that Jesus of
Nazareth was highly possessed of an artist’s gifts. I do not know much
about Christ; but I shall not hesitate to pronounce that the priest,
Daitetsu of Kaikanji, is full well-qualified for an appreciation of
this kind. Not that he takes much interest in art, nor that he is
well versed in such things. He is enviably content with a production
which can hardly be called a picture, and is innocent enough to think
that there should be the Doctor of Painting! Nevertheless, he is
well-qualified to be an artist. He is like a bag without a bottom:
everything passes through him freely. No impurities stagnate within
him. Only give him a touch of humour, and he shall be at home with
everything he comes across, everywhere he goes, and will thus make a
perfect artist.

As for myself, I shall never be a true artist as long as I cannot get
over my annoyance with being sniffed at by detectives. I may sit before
my easel and take up my palette, but that will not make me an
artist. I can assume myself to be a real artist only when I come to
a mountainous country-side like Nakoi and drink full of the joys of
Spring. Once in this state of emancipation, all the beauties of nature
become mine and I have made myself a first-class artist, even though
I may not paint the smallest picture. I may not equal Michelangelo
in art and take my hat off to Raphael in skill; but I acknowledge no
inferiority in me by the side of the great masters of the past and
present in the personality of an artist. I have not painted a single
picture since I came here. I may look to have brought with me my
colour-box, merely to satisfy a whim, and people may laugh at me as an
imitation. Let them laugh; I am none the less a real artist, a sterling
artist. It is not that one on this psychological height necessarily
produces great works; but I hold that an artist who can turn out a
worthy painting must have passed through that stage.

Thus I thought as I drew at a cigarette after breakfast. The sun had
mounted high above the haze, and I saw the green of the trees standing
out in relief with uncommon clearness in the back mountain when I
opened the shoji.

The relations of air, and objects with colour are to me always
the most interesting study in this universe. Work out atmosphere by
giving first importance to colour, or let air be subordinate to the
object, or weave colour and objects into atmosphere, all kinds of tune
may be given to a picture, each depending upon a delicate variation
in treatment. It goes without saying that this tune shows differently
according to the particular tastes and fancies of individual artists,
just as it is natural that it is influenced by time and place. There
was never, for instance, a bright picture of scenery, painted by an
Englishman. It may be that they are not fond of bright pictures; but
even if they are, they cannot do anything with the atmosphere they have
in England. Goodall is an Englishman; but the tune of colour is quite
different in his productions. He never took any scenery in his own
country for his theme. He chose for his picture the scenery of Egypt
or Persia, where the atmosphere is much clearer than in England. Those
who see his paintings for the first time wonder how an Englishman could
bring out colours so clearly; so brightly are they all finished.

As for individual taste, there can be no help for it. However, if
it be our object to paint Japanese scenery, we must work out a colour
and atmosphere peculiar to Japan. French paintings are good; but you
cannot call it a picture of Japanese scenery which is produced by
simply copying their colours. You must come in contact with nature on
the spot, studying, morning and evening, the shape and colour of the
clouds, the shade of haze, etc., being ever prepared to go out with
your tripod, the moment you see a colour which you think just right.
Colour in nature is to be seen but momentarily, and once missed the
same colour will not be easily caught again. The mountain I was looking
at was full of a colour which was a rare good fortune for an artist to
come across. I could not afford to miss it, and I started to go into
the mountain to make a copy of it.

I left my room through a side fusuma way and stepped out into the
verandah. The same moment my eyes caught the figure of Nami-san,
leaning against the verandah railing, a little distance from me. Just
as I began to call to her a word of greeting, she allowed her left
hand to drop. No sooner had this happened when I saw something flash
in her right hand and travel quickly two or three times over her
chest, and then disappear as suddenly with a clap. The next instant she
raised her left hand with a sheathed dagger in it. The show was over
and phantom vanished behind a shoji. I wended my way to my sketching,
thinking I had been given a morning treat in a theatrical rehearsal.

I walked upward slowly and as I did so the thought of Nami-san again
possessed me. The first thing that occurred to me was that she would
make a fine star if she went on the stage. Most actors and actresses
assume visiting manners when before the foot-lights; but with Nami-san,
her home is her stage and she is always acting, without knowing it.
With her acting is natural. It may be that hers is what may be called
an æsthetic life. Indeed life would be unbearable, with its constant
surprises and alarms, if one did not accept hers as theatrical acting.
She would soon make you dislike her, with her impulsive excesses, if
you were to study her from the ordinary viewpoint of the novelist, with
the common-place background of duty, humanity, etc.

Suppose entangling relations of some sort grew up between her and
myself; my mental agony would, I fancied, be then indescribable. I
had come out on my present sojourn, I told myself, to be away from the
“madding crowd,” and to make of myself a confirmed artist. Everything
that came to me through my two windows must, therefore, be seen as a
picture. I must not set my eyes on any woman but that I saw in her a
figure or character in a “Noh” play, a drama, or poetry. Seen through
this psychological glass, I must say that of all the women I had ever
met, Nami-san was the one who acted most beautifully. Precisely because
her actions were all perfectly unintentional, with absolutely no idea
of showing off a beautiful performance, hers was always far more
fascinating than stage acting.

Such were my ideas, I must not be misunderstood, and it would be the
height of injustice to me to be censured as unfit to be a member of
society. A man is sometimes laughed at for acting theatrically. This
is all very well, when one derides the folly of undergoing unnecessary
self-sacrifices, in order merely to vindicate one’s taste; but it is
wholly unpardonable for curs, with no idea of what tastes are, to scoff
at others by judging things from their own low level. Years ago
a youth sought and met Death by leaping over a five hundred foot
waterfall. I have an idea that he gave his life that must not be lost,
all for the word “æsthetic beauty.” Death is heroic in itself; but
there is something mysterious in the motives that prompt it. However,
it is out of the question for anyone unable to appreciate the heroism
of death to laugh at the self-destruction of Fujimura, the youth. Not
gifted with the power of grasping the true significance of the heroic
ending of life, such a person is bound to fail to resort to the heroic
deed, even when circumstances make it most proper, and I conclude, in
this sense, that such a one has no right to laugh at Fujimura’s tragic
death. I am an artist given over wholly to tastes and sentiments, and
mingling with others in this mundane world as I may, I am loftier than
my vulgar and prosaic neighbours. As a member of society I hold a
position from which I may well teach others. I can act more beautifully
than those who have no poetry, no painting, no artistic culture. In
this man’s world a beautiful act is right, just and upright, and he who
translates justice, righteousness and uprightness into his doings is a
model citizen.

I had walked half a mile upward and came upon a tableland, with
trees weaving out the beautiful green of Spring on the North, probably
the same which I saw from my room in the Shiota hotel, and which so
fascinated me as to bring me out here with my painting kit. I went
about this way and that, beating the grass, in search of a place of
vantage. I awoke in no time to the fact that the charming scenery I saw
from the verandah was, after all, not so easy to take on to a canvas,
and besides the colour and atmosphere were changing. The desire to
paint slipped away from me, I knew not where. With that ambition gone,
it made no difference to me where or how I sat. At random I lay me down
on the young grass, the roots of which the Spring sun was bathing with
his warm rays, and I thought I was crushing the unseen gossamer.

Presently I lay on my back, with wild dwarf quince blooming all around
me. Everything was so transporting that I felt I must write a piece
of poetry. I took out my sketch book and wrote down in it, line after
line, as they slowly came to me until I had eighteen of them to round
it up:

    I left home full of thoughts within me.
    Spring breezes played about my clothes as I came along.
    Sweet is the young grass growing in the wheel tracks.
    Neglected paths run into haze are faintly visible.
    I plant my stick in the ground and look around.
    Nature is in her robe of clear brightness.
    Gentle yellow songsters are hopping to the tune of their lovely
    Seeing plum blossoms falling like snow.
    I walk across the wild field, which is far and wide.
    Coming upon an old temple, I write a poem on its door.
    With sorrowful eyes I look up to the cloud,
    And see the wild geese homing across the sky.
    My heart, why so softly quiet?
    The past is far back, I forget good or bad.
    At thirty I am getting old.
    But Spring is lingering.
    Strolling about I adapt myself to things around.
    At other times I drink full of sweet fragrance.

I read and reread the lines, pleased that they gave expression,
rather well, to my feelings as I lay among the vermilion flowers, in
sweet oblivion to the cares and worries of the world. Just then, came
“hem,” the sound of somebody clearing the throat, and it took me by
surprise, as I least expected any living soul in my fairyland. I turned
round and saw a man coming out of the wood screening the brow of the
mountain yonder. He was wearing a felt hat, which shaded his eyes, that
I imagined to be looking restlessly about. His indifferent kimono and
bare feet almost forced a conclusion that he must be of the fraternity,
the members of which are popularly known as tramps. I thought, he might
be going down the craggy path I had come up; but no, he retraced his
footsteps towards the wood. He did not re-enter the wood, but returned
towards the path. In short, he was going backwards and forwards, as if
in a walk; but his general appearance told against the latter theory.
He was shaking his head now and again, and seemed to be thinking
something, now halting, now looking round. Possibly he was expecting
somebody, it occurred to me; how should I know?

I could not remove my eyes from the suspicious-looking man, although
he aroused no sense of fear or alarm in me. Nor was I seized with
any idea of making a picture of him. Nevertheless my eyes were glued to
him, in spite of myself. As I was following his every movement, another
figure came into the corner of my eye, as the man came to a halt. The
two seemed to recognise each other, and my field of vision narrowed as
they walked up toward each other, until it became a single point. They
stood face to face with a verdant mountain rising on one side, and the
out-stretching sea on the other.

One of the pair was, of course, the tramp, and the other a woman. It
was Nami-san!

So soon as I recognised Nami-san, I remembered the dagger I saw in her
hand that morning. It was possible, even, probable, that she had it
with her now, as she stood before the ungainly man. The thought chilled
me, unhuman as I was.

The two stood perfectly still, maintaining the same posture as when
they first faced each other. They might be talking but I could not hear
a word. Presently the man dropped his head forward and Nami-san turned
her face toward the mountain. A warbler was singing in that direction,
and she seemed to be listening, for all I saw. A few moments later the
man straightened himself up, now carrying his head erect, and
made a motion as if to walk away. The same moment Nami-san changed her
pose and turned her face towards the sea. Something was just visible
in the voluminous folds of her obi, it might be the dagger. The man
pulled himself up proudly and started to go. Nami-san followed him
two or three steps. The man stopped. Did she, perchance, ask him to?
In the same moment he turned round, Nami-san thrust her hand into her
obi. Mercy! But it was not the dagger it took out, but a purse, the
dangling string of which swung gently to and fro in the breeze as the
fair hand held it out to the man. One foot planted firmly on the ground
and the other a little forward, the upper half of her body slightly
thrown backward, and the purple of the purse making a strong contrast
with the well shaped hand, the picture was truly worth preserving. But
the vision evaporated the moment the man took the purse and disappeared
into the wood.

Nami-san gave not a look back to the vanishing man; but she turned
right round and walked briskly toward where I lay buried in the
flowering quince. “Sensei! Sensei!” She called twice, as soon as she
came right in front of me. Wondering when she detected me, I

“What is it, O-Nami-san?”

I held up my head above the quince; my hat had dropped among the grass.

“What can you be doing there, Sensei?”

“I was lying asleep, after a little poetising.”

“Now, now, no story-telling, Sensei. You must have seen the show just

“Yes, I took the liberty to see just a little bit of it.”

“Ho, ho, ho. Not just a little bit of it, but you should have seen a
good deal of it.”

“To tell the truth, I saw a good deal of it.”

“There you are! Just come out of there, Sensei. Come out of the quince,

I meekly obeyed the order.

“Have you got anything more to do in the quince bed?”

“No, nothing more. I was thinking of going home.”

“Well, then, we will go home together, Sensei.”

I again demonstrated my docility, by going back among the quince, by
picking up my hat, by gathering up my kits, and then walking homeward
with Nami-san.

“Have you painted anything, Sensei?”

“No, I gave it up.”

“You have not painted a single picture since you came to us?”

“No, but don’t you see, O-Nami-san, I fled from Tokyo, and having come
to a place like this, I must have everything ‘go as you like’.”

“Speaking of ‘go as you like,’ Sensei, life would not be worth living,
unless you had it that way, wherever you happen to be. For my part, I
am so unconcerned about things that I do not feel ashamed to have a
scene like that seen by others.”

“No, I do not think you need be ashamed.”

“Perhaps, you are right, Sensei; but who do you think that man was?”

“Well, I should imagine he is not a very rich man.”

“Ho, ho, ho, you say right, Sensei. You are a good judge. He is in such
a pinch that he can no longer remain in Japan, and he came to me for
some money.”

“Is that so, O-Nami-san? Where did he come from?”

“From the town.”

“From so far away? Where is he going, now, O-Nami-san?”

“He told me he was going to Manchuria.”

“What for?”

“I don’t know, I am sure. He may be going there to make money, or he
may be going there to die, for all I know.”

I raised my eyes at this point, and looked into my companion’s face
and there I saw a smile dying away, the meaning of which I did not

“He is my husband.”

The woman said it with the swiftness of lightning, catching me entirely
unguarded. I had not had the faintest idea of trying to get such
information out of her. Nor did I expect that she would go the length
of telling me all that. She continued:

“Well, Sensei, has it shocked you?”

“Yes, you astonished me somewhat.”

“He is not my husband at present. He is my husband from whom I have
been divorced.”

“Is that so? Well?”

“That is all.”

“Well, well. By the by, I saw a fine white house by an orange orchard,
which I saw on coming up here. Do you know whose residence that is?”

“It is my brother’s. We will stop there on our way home.”

“You have some business there?”

“Yes. I must do some errand there.”

We came to the craggy path; but instead of going down it, my fair guide
led me by turning to the right. After a slow climb of about one hundred
yards, we came to a gate. Nami-san waiving the etiquette of knocking
at the front door, took me straight into the inner court, which was
laid out into a fine garden fronting the main hall of the house. The
garden was fenced by a mud walk beyond which extended an orange orchard
sloping downward.

“Look, Sensei, isn’t this a fine view?”

“Yes, it is fine.”

As we sat on the verandah, I espied no sign of anything living in
the hall behind us, which was closed from view by paper screens.
Nami-san made no attempt to make our presence known to the people
of the house, but sat on the verandah, looking down on the orchard
with perfect unconcern. This struck me as very strange, and I could
not help wondering if she really had any business here. We found no
subject to talk about, and sat in silence with our eyes wandering
over the orange trees. The sun had almost reached the meridian and the
warm sunshine was bathing the whole mountain, while the dark green of
the innumerable orange trees below glowed intensely. Presently a loud
cock-a-doodle-doo came from the direction of the barn.

“Why, it is noon! I have quite forgotten my errand. Kyuichi-san!

Nami-san stood up, and, bending forward over the verandah, reached out
her hand and slid open a screen. The ten-mat room was empty of any
living soul and a pair of hanging pictures by an artist of Kano school
lonesomely occupied the “tokonoma” niche.


A voice coming from somewhere near the barn answered the call, at last,
and presently footsteps were heard. They stopped just behind the inner
screen. The fusuma opened and at the same moment a plain sheathed
dagger went rolling across the matted floor. Nami-san did it so quickly
that I did not even see her put her hand in between the folds of her
obi and take out the war-like thing. As it was, the dagger stopped just
at the foot of Kyuichi-san who had come out of the opening.

“There, that is for you from your uncle as a present for your going to

                             CHAPTER XIII.

We went down stream in a river boat, with Kyuichi-san, to see him off
at Yoshida railway station. There were in the boat, beside Kuichi-san,
the old man, Shiota, his erratic daughter, Nami-san, her brother,
myself, and also Gembey, who took care of Kyuichi’s luggage. I joined
the party only to make up the company. I did not quite understand why
I should be invited to do so, but being out on an unhuman wandering,
there was no need to be scrupulous and so I also went. The boat had
a flat bottom, as if built on a raft. The old man sat in the centre,
Nami-san and I in front of him, Kyuichi and Nami-san’s brother behind
him, and Gembey by himself with the luggage in the stern.

“Are you fond of War?” asked Nami-san.

“I shan’t be able to tell until I am in it. There may be times I may
find it very hard; but at others I may be jolly about it,” answered
Kyuichi, who had never before been to war.

“However hard, you must know that it is for the state and your
country,” commented the old man.

“With such a war-like thing as a dagger given you, don’t you wish to
begin fighting?” asked Nami-san in her cynical way.

“That may be, but....”

The light response made the old man laugh shaking his beard, while his
son looked as if he heard nothing.

“Do you mean to say that you can go and fight in battle with such an
indifferent mind?” pressed Nami-san, holding her pretty face before
Kyuichi, whose eyes met those of Nami-san’s brother at the same instant.

“I am sure Nami-san would make a grand warrior, if she became one,”
came from the woman’s brother, as the very first word spoken to her in
the boat. Judging from the tone in which it was said, one might have
suspected that it was not meant to be merely a joke.

“I? I become a soldier? If I could, I would have become one long ago. I
would have been dead by this time. Kyuichi-san you had better make up
your mind to be killed. You would gain nothing by coming home alive.”

“Come, now, no more of your raving.... You must come home in triumph,
nephew, dying is not the only way to serve the country. I am good
for three or four years more yet. We will again meet in joy.”

The old gentleman’s word tapered and softened till they melted into
unseen tears, which he concealed from us. Kyuichi said nothing; but
turned his eyes toward the left bank of the river, where they met those
of a man with a rod and line before him. It was fortunate that the
angler did not ask Kyuichi why he looked so sad.

Our boat glided down with delightful smoothness, the willow trees on
the embankments on either side, flitting backward as rustic airs came
wafting, probably from the young damsels at the weaving machines in
houses little yonder, gently stirring the silence of the calm Spring

“Sensei, won’t you paint my picture?” demanded Nami-san, as her brother
and Kyuichi were engrossed in soldiery topics, while the old gentleman
had started journeying to dreamland.

“Why, with pleasure,” I answered, taking out my sketch book and writing
down in it:

    “Harukazeni sora toke shusuno meiwa nani?”(q)

Nami-san curtsied, smiling, and said: “Not a single stroke sketch
like this, but a carefully executed production, giving expression
to my spirit and character, Sensei.”

  ♦ “courtesied” replaced with “curtsied”

“I wish I could oblige you with all my heart; but to be frank, your
face, as it is, would not make a picture.”

“Thanks for your compliments. But what am I to do to make myself fit
for a picture?”

“Don’t get angry, O-Nami-san; I can make a fine picture of you at this
very moment. But there is something wanting in your expression, and it
will be a great pity to portray you without that something.”

“Something wanting? That cannot be helped, as I cannot be anything else
but what I am born with.”

“You may be born with; but the face may look in all sorts of ways.”

“At your own pleasure?”


“The idea! Don’t you make a fool of me, because you think I am only a

“Why, now I say all this, because you are a woman.”

“Eh? Show me, then, Sensei, how you can make your face look in all
sorts of ways.”

“You have seen enough of me of being made to look in all sorts of
ways day after day.”

Nami-san said no more, but turned the other way. The embankments had
disappeared, the river-sides being now almost level with the surface
of the stream. The rice growing low-lands on either side, which had
not yet been ploughed, had turned into a sea of rouge, with the wild
red milk-vetch in full bloom. The pink sea stretched limitlessly till
it was swallowed up in the distant haze. The eyes that followed up
the haze, saw a high peak, half way up which, a soft, dreamy cloud of
Spring was issuing.

“That is the mountain the rear of which you scaled in coming up to
Nakoi, Sensei,” said Nami-san, as her fair hand pointed toward the
mountain that towered into the sky like a vision of Spring.

“Is the ‘Hobgoblin Cliff’ about there?”

“You see that purple spot under that deep green?”

“That shaded place, you mean?”

“Is it a shaded place? It must be a bared patch.”

“No, it must be a hollow; a bared patch would look more brown.”

“That may be. Anyhow, the rock is said to be about there.”

“Then the ‘Seven Bends’ must be a little to the left.”

“No, the Seven Bends is a good bit further away, it being in another
mountain, which is beyond that one.”

“That is so; but it must be in the direction, where a light sheet of
cloud is hanging.”

“Yes, in that direction, Sensei.”

The old man’s arm resting on the side of the boat slipped, and that
awoke him. He asked if the destination had not been reached, and he
gave himself up to yawning, which act took the shape of putting out the
chest, bending the doubled right elbow backward, and stretching the
left arm full length forward, in short going through a form of archery.
Nami-san burst out laughing.

“This is my way....”

“You must be fond of archery,” I said laughing.

The aged spa-hotel man volunteered to tell me that he made only a toy
of ordinary bows in his days, and his arms were pretty sure even in his
old age, patting his left shoulder as he said this. Talk of war was at
its height behind him.

Our boat was now fast reaching its destination, the vetch adorned field
having given way to rows of houses, then to lumber yards, shops,
eating houses and so on. Swallows flitted over the stream, and ducks
quacked in the water. In no time we got out of our boat and headed for
the railway station.

I was at last dragged back into the living world. I call it the living
world, where railway trains may be seen. I am of opinion that there
is nothing else that represents the twentieth century civilization
so truly as the railway train. It packs hundreds of people in a box,
and they have no choice but to be transported all at the same uniform
speed, in complete disregard of individuality. The twentieth century
strives to develop individuality to its utmost, and then goes about
crushing this individuality in every conceivable way, saying you are
free in this lot of so many by so many feet, but that you must not
set a foot outside the encircling fence, as in the case of railway
train prisoners. But the iron fence is unbearably galling to all with
any sense of individuality, and they are all roaring for liberty, day
and night. Civilization gives men liberty and makes them strong as a
tiger. It then entraps and keeps them encaged. It calls this peace.
But this is not a real peace. It is a peace like that of the tiger in
the menagerie, which is lying quietly as he looks calmly over the
crowd that gathers round his cage. Let a single bar of the cage be out
of its place and darkness will descend on the earth. A second French
Revolution will then break out. Individual revolutions are even now
breaking out. Ibsen has given us instances of the way in which this
revolution will burst forth. However, this opinion of railway train can
hardly embellish my sketch book, and still less may I impart it openly
to others. So I kept my peace and joined my companions in stopping at a
refreshment room in front of the railway station.

There were two countrymen in their straw sandals, sitting on stools
near us, one of them wrapped in a red blanket, and the other wearing
a pair of old fashioned native trousers of diverse colours, with one
of his hands over the largest patch, which made the combination of
variegation of black, red, yellow particularly conspicuous.

One of them was saying: “No good, after all, eh?”

“No, not a bit good.”

“Pity that man is not given two stomachs like the bovine.”

“All would be well if we had two. Why, all you have to do, then,
will be to cut out one of them if it goes wrong.”

I thought the countrymen, at least one of them, must be a victim of
stomach trouble. They know not even the smell of winds howling over the
Manchurian battlefield. They see nothing wrong in modern civilization.
They probably know not what revolution means, having never heard even
the word itself. They are perhaps, not quite sure that they have got
one or two stomachs in them. I took out my book and sketched them.

Clang, clang went the bell at the station. The ticket had already been
bought for Kyuichi with the platform tickets.

“Now let us go,” says Nami-san standing up.

“All right,” joined the old gentleman, suiting his action to his words,
and we trooped out of the refreshment room, into the station, then past
the wicket to the platform. The bell was ringing.

The monster snake of civilization came rumbling into the station,
gliding over the shining rails. The snake was puffing black smoke from
its mouth.

“Now be good,” said old Mr. Shiota.

“Good-bye,” returned Kyuichi-san bowing his head.

“Go and meet your death,” says cynical Nami-san again.

The snake stopped in front of us and many doors on its side opened.
Many people came out and many went in, Kyuichi being one of the latter.
The old gentleman, Nami-san’s brother, Nami-san, and I, all stood near
the edge of the platform.

Once the wheels turned, Kyuichi-san would no more be one of “our”
world, but would be going to far, far away country, where men are
struggling among the fumes of smoke and powder, and slipping and
rolling unreasonly in something red and the sky is screeching with
detonations. Kyuichi-san, who was going to a world of that weird sort,
stood motionless in his car, gazing at us in silence. The bond of
relations between us and Kyuichi-san, who caused us to come out here
was to break here, was, in fact, breaking momentarily. The door of the
car still stood open as did the car window, and we were looking at each
other, with only six feet between the going and the stopping; but that
was all that remained of the bond, which was every second snapping.

The conductor came along quickly closing the doors, each door shut
increasing the distance between the going and the stopping. Bang closed
Kyuichi-san’s car door, and we now stood in two different worlds. The
old gentleman unconsciously brought himself close up to the car window
and the young man held out his head.

“Look out there!” The train began to move almost before the words were
finished, the sound of the engine working, coming in measured rhythm at
first, gradually gaining in speed. One by one the car windows passed us
and Kyuichi-san’s face grew smaller and smaller. The last third class
car rolled before us, and just at that moment another head appeared out
of its window.

The unshaven face of the “tramp” peered out from under a worn-out
brown soft hat, casting a sad lingering look. The eyes of Nami-san and
of the deserted one met unintentionally. The train was moving out in
earnest. The face at the window disappeared instantly. Nami-san stood
abstractedly, gazing after the departing train. Strangely enough, in
that abstracted look of hers, I saw that missing “compassion and pity”
visibly outstanding, that I had never seen before.

“That is the stuff! You’ve got it. With that coming, it will make
a picture.”

I said this in a low voice as I patted Nami-san on her back. That
moment I completed the plan of my picture.


(1) Noh is a peculiarly Japanese stage performance of ancient origin,
from which sprang the latter-day theatrical plays. It is presented on
its own stage to the enjoyment of those who love to see human actions
reduced to dreamy gracefulness, beautiful curves, and melodious

(2) Basho Matsuo was the founder of his own school of Hokku and one of
the most famous poets Japan has produced. He was a seer in his way.
Born in 1644, he died in 1694.

(3) Hokku, also called Haiku, is an ode consisting of only 17 Japanese
kana syllables, and makes a point of compressing into a couple of
lines an impression made by the outside world, thoughts aroused by an
event, sentiments felt and all else that affects human heart. In fact,
everything that carries poetical sentiments and is uttered in poetical
tune within 17 syllables makes a hokku. It may be a mere whim, an
instantaneous impression, or else a very deep thought; but a good hokku
is always rich in colour and profound in idea, which it leaves unsaid
but only hints, and at least arouses a train of fancies in the reader.

(4) Danna-sama is a term originally adopted from Sanscrit Dana, meaning
“exhibition of charity” and is used in addressing a man of position.
Stands for English Sir, Master, or Your Honour; but nearer French
Monsieur. Less formally it takes the form of Danna-san or simply Danna.

(5) A small yellowish-green warbler, that sings with a peculiarly
sweet note, generally but wrongly identified with the English
nightingale. The uguisu never sings at night, as does the English bird,
except as a caged captive under a paper cover, with a light burning

(6) Means an old woman or a grandmother with an honorific O; Bah-san is
less formal.

(7) Inen was a disciple of Basho and a passionate lover of nature in
her quietude.

(8) A rustic air sung by a mago or packhorse driver and the like,
always arousing pastoral associations of peace and care-freeness.

(9) Oba means aunt and san a honorific affix less formal than sama.
Oba-san is used in its broadest sense as is aunt.

(10) Aki is the name of a woman; in this case that of the old woman’s
married daughter. O and san are respectively an honorific prefix and

(11) Jo is daughter with the honorific sama, which becomes san less

(12) “Wise that the bride went horseback after cherry season.” This
haiku was probably suggested by an old ditty: “Why tie a horse to a
blossoming cherry tree? The flowers will scatter if spirited the horse

(13) Same as O-Bah-san, only less polite. See (6).

(14) Obi is a lined belt, made of fabric of various texture used over
the kimono, going two or three times round the waist. The Japanese
woman’s obi is often made of very beautiful material, and is about
eight-tenths of a foot in width and thirteen feet or so in length, so
that it is a ponderous affair to wear round the waist.

(15) The semi-transparent paper screen, sliding in grooves and
serving the purposes of light-admitting doors in Japanese houses.

(16) Same as shoji, only mounted with wall-paper like stuff and
therefore heavier. It also moves in grooves and takes the place of a
door in Japanese houses.

(17) A shoji is often put in windows in Japanese houses.

(18) In Japan it is considered nothing extraordinary or improper for
hotel maids or others of the sex, waiting on a guest, to help him to
put on a kimono.

(19) The three stringed Japanese guitar, often called “Sangen” nowadays.

(20) Generally means a Buddhist priest, implying respect. Osho-san is a
less formal form.

(21) Zen is the name of a Buddhist sect, credited with rising above
worldly trammels.

(22) Same as karakami.

(23) A term of widest application. Scholars, teachers, savants men of
profession or of speciality are all Sensei.

(24) Same as Danna-sama, only less polite. See (4).

(25) A round-head Buddhist priest, often pronounced “bonze” by

(26) Buddhist priests from the youngest to the oldest keep their head
clean shaved all over.

(27) Same as karakami. See (16).

(a) “The crazy thing, it shakes dew-drops off the aronia?” A blossoming
aronia wet in rain is often sung as a beauty in ablution. Crazy must
therefore be any one who shakes dew drop off an aronia in bloom.

(b) “Shadow of a flower; shadow of a woman; both so misty!” An
instantaneous picture of woman standing by a blossoming tree in the dim

(c) “The Reynard In woman’s guise, the moon so misty.” The fox is
often spoken of as “Shoichii,” which is the title of the Inari god,
who is always associated with the animal. The fancy here is that the
moon being so soft and dim that it will give the cunning animal an
opportunity to assume a human figure, and the woman may be a fox in

(d) “A garland she makes of the midnight stars of Spring.”

(e) “It is Beauty loosening and bathing her hair in the clouds of a
Spring night.”

(f) “Spring’s night this, how fair the singing one.”

(g) “Spirit of aronia lured out even the moon-lit night.”

(h) “Song rises and falls, with Spring sauntering under the moon.”

(i) “How so alone, when fullest Spring is ripening!”

(j) “Dews on aronia fly; ’tis morning raven.”

(jk) “Shadowy the shadow of flower and the shadow of woman.”

(k) “Shadow of flower doubled the shadow of woman.”

(l) “It is lordling in woman’s guise in misty moonlight.”

    “Even like the dew drop
       That when autumn comes,
    Lodges trembling on grass
       So must I roll off to die.”

    “Hark, the packhorse bells in the Spring breeze,
       Even as they jingled in Inen’s ear.”

    “List, mago-uta, grey hair undyed
       Spring is going again.”

    “Wise that the bride went
       After the flower season on horse back.”

    “Even as the gate of heaven opens
       In the Spring breeze, fair one!
    Show what is in your heart.”


“Soseki” Natsume was born in Ushigome, on January 5, 1867. After
graduating from Tokyo Imperial University, he taught in the Middle
Schools of Matsuyama and Kumamoto. Later he was appointed a professor
of Kumamoto No. 5 High School. In 1900 he was ordered to England by the
Department of Education to prosecute his studies. On coming home in
1903 he was given a chair of Literature In Tokyo Imperial University.

He resigned his university post in 1907 and immediately accepted a
position in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun newspaper. From about 1909, he
began to ail from ulceration of the stomach, and the subsequent seven
years he spent in hospital and going to spas for a change of air, until
the disease carried him in 1916, he having never recovered fully from
its attack. He was in his fiftieth year when he died.

                     Chronology of Soseki’s works:

  Name                                                             Year

  London Shosoku           (London Letters)                        1901
  London Toh             (The Tower of London)                     1905
  Eijitsu Shohin         (Long Day Miscellany)                     1909

                           Critical Essays:

  Bungaku-ron           (Literature, an essay)                     1907
  Bungaku Hyoron        (Literary Criticisms)                      1909
  Asahi               (Reprints from the Asahi)                    1911
  Bunten-to Geijutsu  (Art and The Department of
                       Education Exhibition of Art)                1912
  Shakai-to Jibun         (Society and Self)                       1913


  Wagahaiwa Neko-de Aru      (I Am A Cat)                     1909–1906
  Botschan                    (Botchan)                            1906
  Nowaki                 (A Blast Of Fall Wind)                    1907
  Gubijinso                (The Corn-poppy)                        1907
  Sanshiro                    (Sanshiro)                           1908
  Sorekara                      (Next)                             1909
  Mon                         (The Gate)                           1910
  Higan-sugi Made       (Until After the Equinox)                  1912
  Kokoro                     (The Heart)                           1914
  Mei-An            (Light and Shade) not finished                 1915



  定價 金貳圓五拾錢
  英譯 草枕

  譯者 高橋一知

  發行者 不破瑳磨太

  印刷者 北村東一

  印刷所 ジャパン・タイムス社印刷部

  * * * * *

  發行所 ジャパン・タイムス社出版部

   振替口座 東京 六四八四八番
  販賣所 全國各書店


                        THE JAPAN TIMES SERIES
                           JAPANESE FICTION

                               * * * * *

  During the eras of Meiji and Taisho (1868–1926) the literary life of
  Japan was enriched by a wealth of atheneum of the world.

  As literature is the mirror of a living age in which is reflected the
  life of the people and through which, more than any other medium,
  the students of the present and future eras may more readily gain
  an insight into the characteristics and the life of the people,
  the publishers are convinced that the placing before the world, of
  representative Japanese literature, will render an inestimable service
  by bringing to it fuller and better understanding of Japan and the

                               * * * * *

                          お艶殺し 谷崎潤一郎作
                          A SPRING TIME CASE
                           (OTSUYA KOROSHI)
            By Jun-ichiro Tanizaki rendered by ♦Zenchi Iwado.

              ♦ “Zench” replaced with “Zenchi”

                               * * * * *

                        戲曲 井伊大老の死 中村吉藏作
                         THE DEATH OF II TAIRO
                           (Ii Tairo No Shi)
              By Kichizo Nakamura rendered by Mock Joya.

                               * * * * *

                            草枕 夏目漱石作
                             UNHUMAN TOUR
           By Soseki Natsume rendered by Kazutomo Takahashi.

                               * * * * *

                     Published by THE JAPAN TIMES
                       HIBIYA PARK, TOKYO, JAPAN
                          Price Yen 2.50 Each
               Postage Domestic 18 sen. Foreign 30 sen.
          _Sent to Any Address on Receipt of the above Cost._

                        Transcriber’s Notes

 1. Misspelled words have been corrected, sometimes referring to
    the original Japanese text. Obsolete and alternative spellings have
    been left unchanged (e.g. arn’t, atheneum, ecstacy, indivorcible,
    irridescent, straightway). Spelling and hyphenation have otherwise
    not been standardised.  Grammar has not been corrected.

 2. Punctuation has been silently corrected.

 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

 4. Illustrations are indicated by: [Illustration: caption or
    descriptive text].

 5. Horizontal rule lines and are indicated by “* * * * *”.

 6. The Japanese copyright information was originally written in
    vertical text.

 7. “Edit Distance” in Corrections table below refers to the
    Levenshtein Distance.

 Japanese data (from end of book):

  Title:               草枕
                       Kusamakura (lit. “Grass Pillow”)

  Author:              夏目漱石
                       Natsume, Sōseki

  Translator:          高橋一知
                       Takahashi, Kazutomo

  Publisher (person):  不破瑳磨太
                       Fuwa, Samata

  Printer (person):    北村東一
                       Kitamura, Tōichi (surname and given name)

  Print date:          昭和二年七月一日
                       Shōwa (era) year 2 July 1 (i.e. 1 July 1927)

  Printing site:       ジャパン・タイムス社印刷部
                       Japan Times Company Printing Department
                       Tokyo City
                       Kōji-machi Uchisaiwai-chō 1-chōme 5-banchi

  Publication date:    昭和二年七月十日
                       Shōwa (era) year 2 July 10 (i.e. 10 July 1927)

  Publication site:    ジャパン・タイムス社出版部
                       Japan Times Company Publication Department
                       Tokyo City
                       Kōji-machi Uchisaiwai-chō 1-chōme 5-banchi

  Sales site:          全國各書店
                       Nationwide various book stores

  Fixed Price:         金貳圓五拾錢
                       2 yen 50 sen


  pg(s)              Source                 Correction         Edit

           ii    rejuvinated            rejuvenated                1
          iii    siezed                 seized                     2
           iv    visionalise            visualise                  3
            6    frought                fraught                    1
           10    paraphenalias          paraphernalia              2
       12, 60    breath                 breathe                    1
         fn 1    Bracketted             Bracketed                  1
  15, 23, 77,
  84, 92, 136    wont                   won’t                      1
           15    æthetically            æsthetically               1
           19    chucking               clucking                   1
           19    straw-sandals          straw sandals              1
           19    forelornly             forlornly                  2
           20    chucked                clucked                    1
           25    sylables               syllables                  1
           25    poney                  pony                       1
           27                           (p)                        3
           34    corriders              corridors                  1
       36, 48    slided                 slid                       2
           44    banditi                banditti                   1
           48    Breath                 Breathe                    1
           49    “shoji,”(7)            “shoji,”                   3
           50    (8)                    (18)                       1
           56                           (l)                        3
           58    velvetty               velvety                    1
           58    declevity              declivity                  1
           59    night                  might                      1
           60    triped                 tripod                     1
      63, 142    caligraph              calligraphy                1
           66    horison                horizon                    1
           67    dishabile              dishabille                 1
           82    famliy                 family                     2
           83    capilary               capillary                  1
           88    messhes                meshes                     1
           88    profoundity            profundity                 1
           92    topsyturvy             topsy-turvy                1
           93    swollowed              swallowed                  1
          103    fulfiled               fulfilled                  1
          104    maize                  maze                       1
          107    threshhold             threshold                  1
          112    diciple                disciple                   1
          115    eves                   eaves                      1
          122    paraphelnalia          paraphernalia              1
          122    rotand                 rotund                     1
          126    apologically           apologetically             2
     127, 145    Wont                   Won’t                      1
          127    caling                 calling                    1
          128    scholar-caligrapher    scholar-calligrapher       1
          130    monosylable            monosyllable               1
          142    beginnig               beginning                  1
          152    hachet                 hatchet                    1
          184    courtesied             curtsied                   2
           ad    ZENCH                  ZENCHI                     1



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