Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/165

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161
SOUTHERNMOST JAPAN

ACCOUNT OF A TRIP IN SOUTHERNMOST JAPAN, WITH EARLY RECORDS OF ITS DISCOVERY
By Dr. ROBERT VAN VLECK ANDERSON

WASHINGTON, D. C.

ON one of the early days of May, 1905, three of us—a Japanese friend, my brother and I—were trudging through long avenues of pine trees and crossing the upland border line between the provinces of Hiuga and Osumi in southern Kiushiu and southern Japan. Kiushiu, the farthest south of the four main islands of Japan, is an exceptionally interesting and picturesque country, and perhaps the finest member of the archipelago. At this time we were traversing it diagonally from the open shore of the Pacific Ocean on the east to the bay and city of Kagoshima that mark the island's southern extremity. This is far from the center of the empire and the region of foreign traffic, and as yet there was no railway leading thither. The country paths are seldom trodden by foreigners, and the towns and villages are rarely afforded the amusement of a stranger's advent.

The rain was continuous, at times bringing such a downpour that it seemed to bid fair to flatten every object in the landscape. One who lives much out-of-doors in Japan must be reconciled to the coming of rain at all times, so we walked on gayly through it all, until the end of each day brought us to some inn where the night could be spent. As we neared our destination, the way followed torrents muddy with a burden of silt derived from the hills of volcanic ash and other volcanic rocks around about, and among green unterraced hills that reminded us of the limitless smooth slopes of home in America, so unlike were they to the usual terraced, stone-walled and rice-grown hills with forested tops that one knows throughout Japan. Finally we crossed over the axis of the island, the main divide, whence precipitous volcanic slopes led down through the rain-mist to the bay and islands that we could not see. Neither could we see the great smoking volcano Kirishima-yama, of which days before we had caught a glimpse from far in the north in the vicinity of Aso-san, and which we were later to view from southward on finer days.

After descending from the mountains and skirting the bay through extended ill-smelling fishing villages populous with staring people, we reached Kagoshima, the city of gardens and rich semi-tropical growth, the great port of the south. Here one looks down from one's balcony upon whole streets of shipping agencies, where hang great black and white placards of Chinese characters advertising dates of departure