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are so obliterated with age that it is difficult to make them out. One very obvious cause of the obliteration is the number of paper pellets adhering to them, these being thrown at them in a moist state by the worshippers, prayers having previously been written on them! In one corner is an old wooden image of a god, whose features are quite rubbed away, like the great toe of the bronze statue of St. Peter in Rome, by the constant stream of people who come to rub it with their hands, afterwards passing the latter over their faces and chests.

But, though the temple was the first attraction at Asaksa, there are now numbers of other more profane attractions in its immediate vicinity. The transition ' from grave to gay' with the natives of Niphon is evidently a speedy one. All round the Kwan-non temple is a Japanese version of Bunyan's Vanity Fair. In one place a theatre; in another an archery shed ; in another a menagerie ; in another a series of wood-works and a cleverlyworked marionette; in another a performance of jugglers or acrobats; in yet another the sanctum' of a fortuneteller. Almost every alternate little house is a tea-house, and at each of these are one or more groups of sight seers and holiday-makers, sipping the refreshing beverage, or taking a more solid meal; in the interval of going the round of amusements. Everything seems to be conducted

. with the greatest order and good nature, and there are no signs of noisy rowdyism, no sounds of rudeness or insult.

In one part of the grounds is a railed enclosure, where one of the national games of Japan is in progress. This game is played on pony-back; the riders are armed each with a bamboo rod, to the end of which is fixed a cup or bag of netting; a number of balls are scattered about the ground; and the game is to pick up the balls in the netting, and throw them through a hole in a board fixed

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at the end of the enclosure, each man trying to prevent his neighbour from succeeding. The horsemanship displayed is not of the best, for a Japanese always seems to think that a horse may be held on to, as well as guided, by the bridle, and acts accordingly.

About a mile beyond Asaksa is the Shibara, or Theatre Street, in close proximity to the ill-famed Yosiwara. At any time of the day we may be sure to find in this street a theatre in full play. The buildings are much like the Chinese edifices of the same class; the acting is apparently much superior, not depending to such an extent on the gorgeous dresses and violent gesticulations of the actors. The plays are said to be mostly historical, and it is stated that no small portion of the history of Japan can be better learned from various authentic plays than from any work written purposely on the subject."

We retrace our steps from the Shibara, and make our way back to the Foreign Hotel. Half a mile beyond this, towards the south-west, and close to the shore of the bay, is the Hamagoten—the summer gardens of the Emperor-which must be to us the last of the Yedo “sights.' The house and grounds stand in a walled and moated enclosure, the moat being used also as a canal. The house is built, evidently recently, in European style, and furnished with European furniture. The best ornaments in it are the sets of frescoes in two of the principal rooms, one set representing hawking scenes in Japan, the other a sport which would seem to be a favourite one with the nobility of Niphon, but which would in England be scouted as childish barbarity—that of shooting at a running dog with bows and arrows. The gardens are

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| For an interesting account of the Japanese drama, and also of Asaksa, see again Mr. Mitford's “Tales of Old Japan’; especially the note therein on ‘A Story of the Otokodaté.'

very prettily laid out; full of miniature lakes, ornamental rustic bridges, summer-houses, rockeries, sequestered walks and nooks, and fine trees. Versailles can scarcely call up more bitter-sweet recollections to its late imperial master than Hamagoten must do to the defeated and banished Shogun.

THE COUNTRY.

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CHAPTER XVIII.

THE COUNTRY.

'Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower
Glistering with dew: fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild.'— Paradise Lost.

It is commonly believed in England that travelling in Japan is about equally dangerous with travelling in Central Africa or among the untamed Maories of New Zealand. A thrust of a dagger, or a cut of a razorlike sword-blade, is supposed to be the fate awaiting at every road-corner any foreigner rash enough to venture beyond the limits of the Treaty Ports. Our own trip into the country is but one among many others that can be brought to prove that such an idea does much injustice to the natives of the Land of the Sunrise.

Of the five or six instances of attempts to assassinate Europeans which have occurred within as many years in Japan, more than one were in all probability attempts on the parts of the murderers to avenge themselves for drunken frolics played upon them by Europeans of a low class, while the rest seem only to be accounted for by the inveterate hostility of some of the Daimios to foreigners of all kinds. This latter feeling seems to have much diminished of late years, and considering the hundreds of thousands of armed and comparatively idle men who exist

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in Japan as retainers to the various Daimios, the numbers of quarrels and assassinations which are known to occur in the country must be acknowledged to be remarkably small. . Apart from this sworded class, the Japanese are a very peaceable and friendly people, and a traveller in the country parts cannot fail to be struck with the civility and ready welcome which meet him everywhere.

There are, however, one or two minor difficulties to be overcome before a non-resident can start on a tour inland. One is, to find a resident who will act as companion, guide, and interpreter; another, to procure a 'permit' which will allow the traveller to pass beyond the Treaty limit of thirtyfive miles from a foreign port. This latter difficulty is usually overcome by procuring a doctor's certificate stating that it will be for the good of the bearer's health to visit some of the numerous sulphur-springs which exist in the country: this certificate at once procures a formal ‘pass' from the Japanese officials, and the difficulty vanishes. Then there are the minor difficulties incidental to hiring a pony to carry one's self, and coolies to carry one's provisions. The latter may be dispensed with only if the traveller can make up his mind to subsist for a time on rice, eggs, fish, tea and saki, with a few vegetables and nondescript relishes.'

With the kind assistance of resident friends, we achieve our preparations on the day after returning to Yokohama from Yedo, and on the subsequent afternoon we start, a mounted quartett, for our first sleeping-place, Hara-matchida. It is disheartening, not to say ominous, , for us to have proceeded scarcely a quarter of a mile before one of our steeds steps deliberately on a round pebble in the middle of Curio Street and brings himself and his rider down in the dust; but this is said to be not an uncommon diversion practised by Japanese ponies, so

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