Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/175

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171
SOUTHERNMOST JAPAN
not sufficiently admire it; for whereas they had never seen any gun before in that country, they could not comprehend what it might be, so that for want of understanding the secret of the powder, they all concluded that of necessity it must be some sorcery.

The story goes on to tell how the nobleman took Zeimoto up behind him on his horse and had criers declare through the town that thereafter he considered him as his kinsman, and that he should be treated accordingly on pain of death. The lord treated Zeimoto very kindly, and the latter, according to Pinto, presented his harquebuse to the lord, who gave him in return 1,000 tæls silver.[1] The lord took more pleasure in shooting the gun than in anything else, and many of his subjects set to work to learn to make firearms. Pinto says that when he returned to Japan another time, which was in 1556, he was amazed to find how the art of making guns had spread, and he says that on expressing his amazement:

"Certain merchants of good credit assured me that in the whole island of Jappan there were above 300,000 harquebuses. . . . So that by means of that one, which Zeimoto presented to the Nautaquim in acknowledgment of the honour and good offices that he had done him. . . the country was filled with such abundance of them, . . . whereby one may perceive what the inclination of this people is, and how much they are naturally addicted to the wars, wherein they take more delight than any other nation that we know.

The first finding of Japan by Europeans opened the way to the coming of more merchants, and missionaries. It was not long after that St. Francis Xavier came and converted large numbers of the Japanese to Christianity and started this new religion, which in later years gained such a firm rooting and developed among the Japanese some of the bravest Christian martyrs known to history. During following centuries a very important trade continued between Japan and the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch until the country was opened to the world by America in 1854.

We found the people in many of the out-of-the-way parts of Japan not much altered, it would seem, from what they were centuries ago, and just as much filled with curiosity as they were then at the coming of "red-haired barbarians with green eyes." To cite just one instance—one day an old man who had never seen a foreigner before sat for half an hour outside our door, which happened to be a little open, and watched us while we were eating. I heard later that his comment was—"they have beautiful complexions but I do not like their hair," A light complexion is always considered an element of beauty, and for this reason a large proportion of the girls use powder, although their faces are in general whiter and rosier naturally than the men's. Black hair is, of course, an element of beauty, and sandy hair such as ours is not, since black is practically the only color known among themselves;


  1. Compare this with the Japanese account of the transaction.