Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/166

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that are never kept. Here there is a beauty in the landscape and a spirit of liveliness in the people that invites one to stay, and an invitation in the bay and boats to go adventuring southward to the little known Liu Kill Islands and Formosa, from relations with which this most charming of Japanese cities acquires much of its character. And here one is in the heart of the old province of Satsuma, famed for its porcelain of centuries, and its heroes, and its influence on the history of the empire from the earliest day to the very present.

During most of our stay a warm rain was flooding down over the city, interfering with the manufacture of "ancient" Satsuma ware, and hindering the departure of all steamers, which seldom go when it rains and thus give their crews and passengers the enjoyment of furloughs much of the time. It was entertaining to sit in kimono on the balcony outside of the paper windows and look down on the scene in the streets, at the constant flow of people walking with bare feet and bare legs along the muddy ways under brown oil-paper umbrellas; at the shoulder-borne baskets heaped with yellow "biwa," or loquats, with chrysanthemums and lilies; at the wide bamboo rain hats from under which rang out the musical cries and songs of men and women, basket carriers, venders of fish just out of the water, turnips just out of the ground, young bamboo sprouts that have grown over night and will be eaten for dinner, fruits, cakes and flowers to decorate the shrines.

A few days more brought out the sun and the full plant life of the height of spring, and all the clearness of outline and symmetry of the island-volcano Sakura-jima, which springs from a bay rivaling that of Naples in the loveliness of its water and surroundings. And it was rather to my disappointment that, with the coming of good weather, the little boat which we had been waiting to take to the islands farther south finally made up its mind to leave for Tanegashima.

This island lies south of Japan in latitude 30° 30′, and is separated from Kiushiu by the Van Diemen Strait. It is long and low and narrow, trending northeast, its length being thirty-six miles and greatest width seven. It is composed of highly tilted strata of Tertiary age. Its people are Japanese, and as far as known it has always belonged to Japan, being in every way more closely related to that country than to the more southern or Liu Kiu islands that form a long curving chain down to Formosa.

Tanegashima was the first portion of Japan to be discovered by Europeans centuries ago, and it was here that the Japanese first became acquainted with members of that other race. With the foreigners came a knowledge of firearms, which spread from this island to the rest of the empire. For this reason Tanegashima was the name formerly applied to all firearms, and to the present day some pistols are still so called.