Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Volume 2

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Houghton, Mifflin, 1894 - Japan - 699 pages
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As an interpreter of Japan to the West, Lafcadio Hearn was without parallel in his time. His numerous books about that country were read with a fascination that was a tribute to his keen powers of observation and the vividness of his descriptions. Today, even though Japan has changed greatly from what it was when he wrote about it, his writing is still valid, for it captures the essence of the country - an essence that has actually changed a good deal less than outward appearances might suggest. In a word, the Japanese character and the Japanese tradition are still fundamentally the same as Hearn described.
 

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Page 620 - Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are and to make new things like them.
Page 393 - If you desire to practise true virtue, learn to stand in awe of the Unseen, and that will prevent you from doing wrong. Make a vow to the god who rules over the Unseen, and cultivate the conscience (ma-go-koro) implanted in you, and then you will never wander from the way.
Page 503 - Souls, have been launched, no one dares to enter it: no boats can then be hired; all the fishermen remain at home. For on that day the sea is the highway of the dead, who must pass back over its waters to their mysterious home; and therefore upon that day is it called Hotoke-umi — the Buddha-Flood — the Tide of the Returning Ghosts. And ever upon the night of that sixteenth day — whether the sea be calm or tumultuous — all its surface shimmers with faint lights gliding out to the open —...
Page 676 - But if this slight equilibrium happens to be disturbed, they will be thrown once more into confusion and change, until, after a period of renewed struggle and suffering, temporary stability is once more attained. The poor and powerless of the present may become the wealthy and strong of the future, and vice versa. Perpetual disturbance is their doom. Peaceful equality can never be attained until built up among the ruins of annihilated Western states and the ashes of extinct Western peoples.
Page 350 - I do not know what human sentiment the principal division of my garden was intended to reflect; and there is none to tell me. Those by whom it was made passed away long generations ago, in the eternal transmigration of souls. But as a poem of nature it requires no interpreter. It occupies the front portion of the grounds, facing south; and it also extends west to the verge of the northern division of the garden, from which it is partly separated by a curious screen-fence structure. There are large...
Page 394 - Is not every action indeed the work of the Dead who dwell within us? Have not our impulses and tendencies, our capacities and weaknesses, our heroisms and timidities, been created by those vanished myriads from whom we received the all-mysterious bequest of Life? Do we still think of that infinitely complex Something which is each one of us, and which we call ego., as T or as 'They'?
Page 346 - Such a garden, in a vessel no larger than a fruit-dish, is called koniwa or tokoniwa, and may occasionally be seen in the tokonoma of humble little dwellings so closely squeezed between other structures as to possess no ground in which to cultivate an outdoor garden. (I say "an outdoor garden...
Page 524 - Occidentals call dancing - acting accompanied with extraordinary waving of sleeves and fans, and with a play of eyes and features, sweet, subtle, subdued, wholly Oriental. There are more voluptuous dances known to geisha, but upon ordinary occasions and before refined audiences they portray beautiful old Japanese traditions, like the legend of the fisher Urashima, beloved by the Sea God's daughter; and at intervals they sing ancient Chinese poems, expressing a natural emotion with delicious vividness...
Page 655 - First impressions, being largely instinctive, are scientifically recognized as partly trustworthy; and the very first impression produced by the Japanese smile is not far from the truth. The stranger cannot fail to notice the generally happy and smiling character of the native faces; and this first impression is, in most cases, "wonderfully pleasant. The Japanese smile at first charms. It is only at a later day, when one has observed the same smile under extraordinary circumstances, — in moments...
Page 392 - The spirits of the dead continue to exist in the unseen world which is everywhere about us, and they all become gods of varying character and degrees of influence.

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