Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/176

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and as for blue eyes—if a Japanese, having never seen them, could imagine them at all it would only be with horror.

The people of Tanegashima are rather easy-going, and along the coast are often poor and dirty, rather from indolence than lack of opportunity. When not lounging idly they are at their fishing or seaweed gathering, or the women in their sweet-potato patches. All down the rocky coast one sees ragged children playing, and naked men with well-formed bodies of the color of bronze, working at their boats and nets or swimming in the sea with baskets gathering edible sea-weed. In the fields, too, the peasants work almost naked during the warm days. The coast is one of rocks and pools and waves, of fish-nets spread out to dry, of dirty fishing shanties, of coral walls surrounding the yards, of salt-making paddies, and long reaches where nothing grows but grass and shrubs and pines.

Our wanderings took us along the coasts, across the island and down its center, and afforded us many experiences and views that are memorable. Toward the southern end we stayed one night at Kumano Bay on the eastern coast, the place to which the foreign ship of Mendez Pinto came first, and where lived the blacksmith Kiyosada who first learned to manufacture firearms. Here there is a large inlet among the hills that is filled with water only when the tide is in, where one sees "now horseback riders and now the white sails of boats" as one Japanese writer quaintly puts it. We walked across the dry, flat floor of the bay one evening on our way out to the seacoast to examine some caves. Returning after dark we started across it and found it full of water up to our waists. At every step we took, the disturbed bay gleamed with phosphorescence in a circle all about us and made a fine picture here in the valley of water between pine-crowned hills that stood out even blacker than the night. Here where the landscape changes with the tide is the holiest place in the island, and we had the pleasure of spending the night with the priest of the Shinto shrine in an exquisitely beautiful Japanese house that had just been built for him. He lived alone, but called in a charming lady and her perfect little daughter from the neighboring hamlet to prepare our food. The meals were very simple, but neatly and daintily served, after the general plan of the meal before described. The priest did not eat with us, but we sat with him and talked for some time by the open fire that was burning in a basin in the floor. The custom of having fires differs among the Japanese. Usually in the hotels and private houses there is a wood fire on the dirt floor or in a rough stove in the kitchen, and nothing but braziers in the living rooms. But often also, in the country homes especially, open fires burn in a round hearth in the center of the house. There is never a chimney, and in the present case the rich new woodwork of panel and ceiling was fast becoming blackened with smoke from the tarry pine wood.