Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/168

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154
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

tutions of Japan. The traveler will find it wherever he may go, now pretentious and from the Japanese standpoint luxurious, now very humble or even dirty. As camping out is next to impossible in that country, we made great use of the yadoya throughout our journeying. As one steps before the wide open doors of the reception room, or into the court, or the kitchen as the case may be, the host approaches and greets with a low bow, followed by the hostess and usually one or more of the maids, who, kneeling, bend to the floor. The salutations are returned, a word is exchanged perhaps about the rooms or the meal that is to be prepared, and the guest seats himself on the low porch or platform that surrounds the entrances, and removes his shoes or sandals, leaving them on the ground. If one wears the Japanese cloth shoe and straw sandal, as I did some of the time, the feet are always washed in a wooden basin of water brought by a maid, who comes clattering around the outside of the house on wooden clogs, to bring it, and sets it down before one on the ground. A little towel is brought too, unless one, as usual, has this most useful of articles about his person. Then the guest steps in, in stocking feet or barefoot, and, preceded by a servant passes through the open rooms, often between a double line of all the people of the household who are bowing to the floor. He enters the room allotted to him and there seats himself cross-legged on a cushion on the matted floor before a tiny charcoal fire in a brazier, and rests—at least pretends to rest if he is a foreigner—until disregard for ceremony gets the better of him and he adopts an easier position. Presently comes a demure or smiling little maid, with rosy cheeks and fancifully colored silk kimono, who kneels outside and slides open the paper door, enters, kneels and closes it, brings tea things to the center of the room, and kneeling pours out a wee cup of tea to the guest or each of the guests. This done she bends her forehead to the floor and patters out, opening and closing the door as before. If the guest is an honored one some dainty, such as bean jelly or cakes, or raw dough rolled in pink and green powder is brought with the tea. Then the guest steps out to the porch to wash, and as he dries his face he looks at the little cultured garden, or off to distant valley, or forest or mountain, or sea. Returning to his room, he is most of the time alone until the coming of the meal; or if it chances to be afternoon or evening, until the announcement comes that "the bath is ready." One is never entirely alone; access to the room is always free on several sides and host, or visitor, or servant, may come in at any time. One becomes used to this and learns to like it in most ways. There is nothing hidden. It makes life simple and informal and more natural. "We found it a disadvantage sometimes when we had too many visitors whose curiosity got the better of them, but we always took it in good part, finding it amusing rather than annoying.