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Wearied by the novelty, every detail of which, however, was known to us before, we walked back in the white, milky sunset, which was like a brilliant twilight.
We made our first visit to town yesterday; that is to say, we went to Tokio, which is about twenty miles off. Of course we took our jinrikishas at the door of the hotel, and passing through the wide Yokohama streets, saw the semi-European houses, some with high garden walls in which are small doors: there are sidewalks, too, and European shops, and colonial buildings, post-office, and telegraph office; and the Japanese kura, or storehouses heavy tile-roofed buildings with black and white earthen surfaces, the black polished to a glaze, as was done with Greek and Etruscan vases. They have deep windows or doors, recessed like our safes, with a great air of solidity, which contrasts with that temporary wooden structure, the usual Japanese house. I came near saying that the little railway station is like ours; but it is better than most of ours, with neat arrangements. We entered the little cars; I noticed, in the third class, Japanese curled up on the seats. The grade is as level as a table, the landscape is lovely, and we saw the shapes we know so well in the prints - the curious shapes of the Japanese pines; little temples on the hillside; and rice-fields with their network of causeways, occasionally a horse or a peasant threading them. The land is cultivated like a garden, the lotus leaves fill the ditches, and one or two pink flowers are
just out. From time to time we saw stretches of blue And once, for an instant, as I looked up into the hazy, clouded sky, far beyond the hills, that were lost in the mist into which the rice-field stretched, I saw a pale, clear blue opening in which was an outline more distinct, something very pure, the edge of a mountain, looking as if it belonged to another world than the dewy moist one in which we are the cone of Fusi-yama.
On passing through the station, very much like the other with its various arrangements for comfort and order, first-, second-, and third-class rooms, and so forth, we met a crowd of jinrikishas with their runners, or, as my friends tell me to call them, kuruma and kurumaya, every man clamoring for patronage in the usual way of the hackman.
We selected as a leader Chojiro, who speaks English a little; is a travelled man, having gone as far as Constantinople; wears the old-fashioned queue, flattened forward over the top of his shaven head; and whose naked feet were to run through the day over newly-macadamized roads, for which a horse would need to be well shod. A little way from us, on the square, stood the car of the tramway, which runs as far as Asakusa, to the great popular temples of protecting divinities, Kuwanon and Jizo — and Benten, from whose shrine flowed one day copper coins as if from a fountain, where Buddhist sermons are preached daily; which are full of innumerable images, pictures, and ex-votos; and where prayer-wheels, duly turned, helped the worshipper
to be free from annoying sins, or to obtain his desires.
How shall I describe our ride through the enormous city? We were going far across it to call on Professor F—, the great authority on Japanese art, and to be delighted and instructed by him through some fragments of his collection.
In the first street where the tramway runs there are semi-European façades to houses, and in their pilasters the Ionic capital has at length made the circle of the world. Then we took more Oriental and narrower streets, through the quarter of the gei-sha, the dancers and singers who go out perpetually to put a finishing touch on entertainments. At such early hours they are of course unseen. Where houses seemed more closed than usual servants were attending to household duties, and we heard the occasional strum of a guitar. Then great streets again, with innumerable low houses, the usual shops, like open sheds, with swinging signs carved, painted, and gilded, or with draperies of black cloth marked with white characters. Merchants sat on their mats among the crowded goods, girls at corners drew water from the wells; in a narrower street the black streak of a file of bulls peacefully dragging merchandise; where the crowd was thickest a black-lacquered palanquin, all closed, in which was shut some obstinate adherent to ancient fashions. Then bridges and canals, and great empty spaces, long white walls with black copings, and buildings that continued the walls, with gratings like those of barracks. These were the yashikis
inclosed residences of princes who were formerly obliged to spend part of the year at the seat of government with small armies of retainers. Then the walls of the castle, great sloping ramparts of irregular blocks of masonry, about which stand strangely twisted pine-trees, while the great moats of clouded water are almost filled with the big leaves of the lotus. Now and then great gates of gray wood and enormous doors. On some of the wide avenues we met cavalry officers in European costume, correct in style, most of the younger with straggling moustaches, long and thin, whence their nickname of "hornpouts," naturally connected with that of the "cats," devourers of fish, as the gei-sha are called. Near official buildings we saw a great deal of black frockcoats, and trousers, and spectacles. Everything was seen at a full run, our runners dragging us at horse's pace. Still it was long before we reached our destination. Streets succeeded streets, empty or full, in desolate Oriental wearisomeness. At length we stopped at a little gate in a plank fence, and entered a vast high space, formerly a prince's park, at one end of which we saw trees and hills, and we came to the Professor's house, a little European structure. My mind is yet too confused with many impressions to tell you of what we saw that afternoon and evening, and what was said; all the more that the few beautiful paintings we looked at out of the great collection lifted me away from to-day into an indefinite great past. I dislike to use analogies, but before these ancient religious paintings of Buddhist divin
ities, symbolical of the elements or of protective powers, whose worn surfaces contained marvels of passionate delicacy and care framed in noble lines, I could not help the recall of what I had once felt at the first sight of old Italian art.
We passed from this sense of exalted peace to plunge again into the crowded streets at night. It was late; we had many miles to go to catch the last train; two additional runners had been engaged for each kuruma · one to push, one to be harnessed in front.
Then began a furious ride. Mine was the last carriage. We were hurled along with warning cries of "Hai-hai!" now into the dark, then into some opening lighted by starlight, in which I could see the flitting shapes of the other runners and of my companions. I remember the creaking of their carriages, the jerking of them with each pull of the men; then our crossing suddenly other parties lighted by lanterns like ourselves, the lights flaring upon yellow faces and dark dresses and black hair; then our turning some narrow corner and plunging at full speed into lighted streets crowded with people, through whom we seemed to cut our way. Much shouting of our men, and dodging of wayfarers with lanterns and of bystanders, who merely turn enough to let us glide by. Then one of my runners at full gallop struck a post and was left behind; another was gathered in somehow without a stop, and we tore through the city, still more crowded as we came nearer to our end the railway station. We were in time, and we slept