Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Volume 2
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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ancient bamboo beautiful become believe Bimbogami blue Buddha Buddhist butsudan called chant character charm Chiburi child Chinese coiffure curious custom cuttlefish dead dokoe dream dwelling Emperor eyes face festival flowers foreign fusuma futon garden geisha ghosts girl goblin gods guest hair head heard heart heikegani honor hototogisu ihai islands Izumo Japa Japan Japanese Japanese garden Jizo kaimyo kakemono Kami kamidana Kinjuro Kojiki lamp laugh legend living look Master Matsue meibutsu Mionoseki miya never night Nishinoshima Occidental ofuda once paper passed pine pray pretty priest robes sacred Saigo samisen samurai seemed seen Setsubun shape shimenawa Shinto shirabyoshi shrine signifies smile Souls steamer stone story strange sword tablets teacher temple things thou thought tion tree Urago village voice Western woman wonderful words Yokogi young Yuki-Onna
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 369 - Feed a dog for three days," says a Japanese proverb, " and he will remember your kindness for three years ; feed a cat for three years, and she will forget your kindness in three days." Cats are mischievous : they tear the mattings, and make holes in the shoji, and sharpen their claws upon the pillars of tokonoma. Cats are under a curse : only the cat and the venomous serpent wept not at the death of Buddha ; and these...
Page 680 - 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 525 - NOTHING is more silent than the beginning of a Japanese banquet; and no one, except a native, who observes the opening scene could possibly imagine the tumultuous ending. The robed guests take their places, quite noiselessly and without speech, upon the kneelingcushions. The lacquered services are laid upon the matting before them by maidens whose bare feet make no sound. For a while there is only smiling and flitting, as in dreams. You are not likely to hear any voices from without, as a banquetinghouse...
Page 412 - The sum of their toil is incalculable; and all that they have given us ought surely to be very sacred, very precious, if only by reason of the infinite pain and thought which it cost.
Page 428 - As the hair of the Japanese woman is her richest ornament, it is of all her possessions that which she would most suffer to lose ; and in other days the man too manly to kill an erring wife deemed it vengeance enough to turn her away with all her hair shorn off.
Page 530 - Always in the dwelling which a band of geisha occupy there is a strange image placed in the alcove. Sometimes it is of clay, rarely of gold, most commonly of porcelain. It is reverenced: offerings are made to it, sweetmeats and rice bread and wine; incense smoulders in front of it, and a lamp is burned before it. It is the image of a kitten erect, one paw outstretched as if inviting - whence its name, 'the Beckoning Kitten'.6 It is the genius loci: it brings good fortune, the patronage of the rich,...
Page 668 - ... part of deportment. The most agreeable face is the smiling face; and to present always the most agreeable face possible to parents, relatives, teachers, friends, well-wishers, is a rule of life. And furthermore, it is a rule of life to turn constantly to the outer world a mien of happiness, to convey to others as far as possible a pleasant impression. Even though the heart is breaking, it is a social duty to smile bravely.
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'?