2021-04-18 01:01:35

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ENGLISH As they walked away from the kosatsu they saw a group engaged in the childish amusement of blowing soap-bubbles. There were three persons in the group, a man and two boys, and the youngsters were as happy as American or English boys would have been under similar circumstances. While the man blew the bubbles, the boys danced around him and endeavored to catch the shining globes. Fred and Frank were much interested in the spectacle, and had it not been for their sense of dignity, and the manifest impropriety of interfering, they would have joined in the sport. The players were poorly clad, and evidently did not belong to the wealthier class; but they were as happy as though they had been princes; in fact, it is very doubtful if princes could have had a quarter as much enjoyment from the chase of soap-bubbles."Certainly, I remember that," Frank replied; "and it cured him, too.""Well, we have had enough of these disagreeable things, and will turn to something else. We passed by the place where the candidates for military honors compete for prizes by shooting with the bow and arrow. At the first examination they are required to shoot at a mark with three arrows, and the one who makes the best shots is pronounced the winner of the prize. At the second examination they must practise on horseback, with the horse standing still; and at the third they must shoot three arrows from the back of a running horse. Afterwards they are exercised in the bending of some very stiff bows and the handling of heavy swords and stones. There is a certain scale of merit they must pass to be successful; and when they succeed, their names are sent up for another examination before higher officials than the ones they have passed before. It is a curious fact that a man who does well as an archer is entitled to a degree among the literary graduates, though he may not be able to carry away a single prize for his literary accomplishments alone."

A PATH NEAR NAGASAKI. A PATH NEAR NAGASAKI.

"We passed the ruins of forts and towers every few miles, and our guide pointed out some of the towers that were formerly used for conveying intelligence by means of signal-fires. They are now falling to pieces, and are of no further use.

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THE TAE-PING REBELLION.SCENES ON THE GREAT RIVER. "My Dear Friends:From the river they proceeded to Odiwara, where they had a rest of several hours, as the town contained certain things that they wished to see. They found that foreigners were not very numerous at Odiwara, and there was considerable curiosity to see them. Whenever they halted in front of a shop, or to look at anything, of interest, a crowd was speedily collected; and the longer they stood, the greater it became. But there was no impertinence, and not the least insult was offered to them; there was a manifestation of good-natured curiosity, and nothing more. Men, women, and children were equally respectful; and whenever they pressed too closely it was only necessary for the guide to say that the strangers were being inconvenienced, when the crowd immediately fell back. Every day and hour of their stay in Japan confirmed our friends more and more in the belief that there are no more polite people in the world than the Japanese.

From this assertion there was no dissent. Then the question naturally arose, "How is the operation performed?"

The sailors on the junk were very prompt in obeying orders, but they went about everything with an air of coolness which one does not always see on an American vessel. Ordinarily they pulled at ropes as though they would not hurt either the ropes or themselves; but it was observed that when the captain gave an order for anything, there was no attempt at shirking. One of the sailors stood at the sheet of the mainsail, and while he held on and waited for directions his mate was quietly smoking and seated on the deck. When the order came for changing the position of the sail, the pipe was instantly dropped and the work was attended to; when the work was over, the pipe was resumed as if nothing had happened. Evidently[Pg 275] the sailors were not much affected by the fashions that the foreigners had introduced, for they were all dressed in the costume that prevailed previous to the treaty of Commodore Perry, and before a single innovation had been made in the way of navigation. The captain of the junk looked with disdain upon a steamer that was at anchor not far from where his craft was obliged to pass, and evidently he had no very high opinion of the barbarian invention. He was content with things as they were, and the ship that had borne his ancestors in safety was quite good enough for him and his comrades.The party rested a portion of a day at Hakone, and then went on their way. Travelling by cango had become so wearisome that they engaged a horse-train for a part of the way, and had themselves and their baggage carried on the backs of Japanese steeds. They found this an improvement on the old plan, though the horses were rather more unruly than the cango coolies, and frequently made a serious disturbance. Occasionally, when the train was ready to start, the beasts would indulge in a general kicking-match all around, to the great detriment of their burdens, whether animate or otherwise. The best and gentlest horses had been selected for[Pg 206] riding, and consequently the greatest amount of circus performances was with the baggage animals. The grooms had all they wished to attend to to keep the beasts under subjection, and not infrequently they came out of the contest with gashes and other blemishes on their variegated skins. But they showed great courage in contending with the vicious brutes, and it is said of a Japanese betto that he will fearlessly attack the most ill-tempered horse in the country, and not be satisfied till he has conquered him.

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"What was that?" queried Frank.

Village after village was passed by our young adventurers and their[Pg 163] older companion, and many scenes of Japanese domestic life were unfolded to their eyes. At one place some men were engaged in removing the hulls from freshly gathered rice. The grain was in large tubs, made of a section of a tree hollowed out, and the labor was performed by beating the grain with huge mallets. The process was necessarily slow, and required a great deal of patience. This mode of hulling rice has been in use in Japan for hundreds of years, and will probably continue for hundreds of years to come in spite of the improved machinery that is being introduced by foreigners. Rice is the principal article of food used in Japan, and many people have hardly tasted anything else in the whole course of their lives. The opening of the foreign market has largely increased the cost of rice; and in this way the entrance of Japan into the family of nations has brought great hardships upon the laboring classes. It costs three times as much for a poor man to support his family as it did before the advent of the strangers, and there has not been a corresponding advance in wages. Life for the coolie was bad enough under the old form of government, and he had much to complain of. His condition has not been bettered by the new order of things, according to the observation of impartial foreigners who reside in Yokohama and other of the open ports.

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Apr-18 01:01:35