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fresh from the natural spring, and agree mentally with the doctor of Yokohama, that it is good for our health to visit some of the mineral waters.
We pass the afternoon in watching the gradual clearance of the weather, and the opening view down the misty valley; in admiring the gorgeous azaleas in the garden of the tea-house; and in making bargains with several women who come in with stores of the neat and pretty woodwork, comprising cabinets, boxes, trays, papercutters, and toys, for which many of these mountain villages are famous.
The weather clears during the night, and early next morning we are off on foot for Ashinoyu, a village higher up among the bills, and known chiefly for its strong sulphur waters. A walk of three miles, all up hill, and affording fine views of the surrounding mountains, brings us to this small Harrogate of Japan; and, indeed, were one taken there blindfolded, and set down in the little open space which surrounds the covered baths, one could hardly help guessing oneself to be in the Yorkshire Sparoom, for there is the identical odour, as of rotten eggs, equally strong in the two. The baths are filled directly from natural springs, and are very hot, the thermometer standing in them at 109°. Several natives go through their bathing as we rest for an hour in the verandah of a tea-house: they seem to come to the waters chiefly for rheumatic complaints and general debility.
Immediately above the village rises a mountain, called by the natives Komang Atta Yama. A stiff pull of an hour and a half brings us to the summit, 4,350 feet above the sea, according to our aneroid, and 1,500 above Ashinoyu. A magnificent view amply repays the trouble of ascent. Spread out 2,000 feet below us, to the south and west, lies the Hakoni Lake, a fine expanse of water, some six
miles in length, bordered all round by mountains of which the one on which we stand is almost the highest, and fringed at its upper end by fine groves of firs and cryptomerias, which spread out on each side of the village to which the lake gives its name.
Further to the south is a mass of hills forming a promontory jutting out into the sea ; from either side of this promontory sweeps out to east and west a far-stretching bay, that to the east being the Odawara Bay, extending as far as Cape Sagami, at the entrance to the Bay of Yedo, that to the west going away to headlands unknown to us by name. Inland from each of these bays stretches a mingled expanse of hill and plain.
Towards the north is the finest object in the panorama, for there, at some fifteen miles distance, rising with a noble sweep out of the huge plain that encircles him on all sides, stands Fusi-Yama, his head capped with snow, round the lower fringe of which hangs a necklace of clouds, his lower slopes mottled with wood and pasture. Just over his western slope we can distinguish in the distance a range of snow-clad mountains, evidently of about the same height as this monarch of Japanese mountains, but none of them have his graceful outline, or his look of solitary grandeur.
Descending again to Ashinoyu, we pass by a large cluster of sulphurs-prings, where, over a space of many acres, jets of steam and boiling water are issuing from crevices in the ground; the mountain-side around is covered with sulphureous and other deposits, which the natives collect, dry, sort, and send to some remunerative market. From Ashinoyu we descend again to Mé-onooshta, where we spend a second night. Early next morning, after many 'saionaras' (adieux) from our landlady and her attendants, accompanied with a memento from the former of half-a-dozen small china cups, we are off again along the path leading further up the valley. For six miles we wind through wooded gorges and over grassy mountain shoulders, and then reach Shenoko, a poor and small village, whose only luxuries seem to be fresh trout and char from the adjoining stream. From here some of our party walk on along a path which leads over the ridge on the north and west side of the valley, and thrice descend on to the Fusi-Yama plain. After struggling up the ridge under a hot sun, we find awaiting us a noble view of the giant mountain, and the rolling plain which skirts it. We are at a height of 3,200 feet above the sea, but the ridge falls steeply away from our feet down on to the plain 1,500 feet below us.
Away to the right and left stretches the broad expanse of this spacious plain, in parts a marshy pasture-land, in parts thickly dotted with rice and corn-fields, with green woods and brown villages. From the middle of it sweeps upwards the matchless mountain, towering up to its crater-summit of all but eternal snow, 14,100 feet above the sea.
No wonder that this noble mass is reckoned throughout the length and breadth of Japan the most sacred of natural objects. No wonder that its form appears painted on almost every Japanese vase, drawn in almost every Japanese picture. No wonder that it is supposed to be the abode of Sinto, the founder of the heroic religion of Japan; or that thousands of pilgrims crowd every year to the foot of its imposing slopes, and toil devoutly up its steep ascent. For it stands aloof from all the neighbouring mountains, and lifts its gray head far above them, as if it claimed to be venerated and worshipped by all surrounding nature. In combination of symmetry of outline with giant height, it may well claim to be the matchless mountain of the world. The
Greeks could boast of no such Olympus : Teneriffe must yield to it both in height and beauty : in the Swiss Alps we can find no single outline sweeping up uninterruptedly through such an altitude; we may doubt whether even in the Himalayas, or in the Andes, can be found a cone at once so graceful, so regular, and so lofty.
Retracing our steps to Shenoko, we join the remainder of our party, and move on again up the valley towards the Hakoni Lake. The stream which flows through Shenoko and past Meonooshta is the same that issues from the lake, so that by following its course up a grassy valley, hemmed in by steep mountain slopes, we reach, after rather more than an hour's walking, the foot of this Derwentwater of Japan.
After waiting three hours for the arrival of a boat for which we had sent to the Hakoni village, we embark on the quiet water, and then a row of more than an hour carries us to the head of the lake, and we are landed close to one of the many tea-houses in the village.
Hakoni village is a pleasant little place, consisting chiefly of a row of shops and tea-houses built along either side of the Tocaido. It is a favourite halting-place for travellers, so that the owners of the tea-houses seem to do a more thriving trade than any of their neighbours, though among the latter the sellers of rough strong sandals, and straw shoes adapted for horses going down the steep pass, are not without employment.
Hakoni Lake, like every other beautiful or remarkable lake in Niphon, has a certain amount of sanctity attached to it by the Japanese, who, like the Greeks of old, seem to people every striking natural object with some spiritual being. Accordingly this lake is said to be inhabited by the largest dragon in the Empire, and there is a law against catching any fish in it. Ignorant of this law, we
spend a forenoon on the water, fly-fishing with a tenjointed bamboo rod bought at Yokohama for eighteen pence. The rod answers very tolerably, but the fish come not; perhaps they have seconded the Japanese officials, and made an agreement amongst themselves that they will not be caught, or the great dragon may have consumed them all-who shall limit an angler's excuses ?
It is strange that this lake was set down by Sir Rutherford Alcock, in his Capital of the Tycoon,' as being 6,000 feet above the sea level. Anyone walking up to it from Odawarra might feel certain that this height was very much over-estimated; our own observations with an aneroid give the height as 2,300 feet.
In the evening of our day at Hakoni we call in to our teahouse an “ā-ma,' or shampooer, and some of us go through the ordeal of being shampooed, which in China and Japan is the almost universal recipe for weariness or fatigue, and constantly adopted by the natives before retiring to rest. The shampooers in Japan are nearly all blind, the science being one which a blind man can acquire as easily as a man with eyes. According to our experience, the process consists of the man tweaking the shoulders, poking the ribs, pinching the arms, playing a gentle 'tattoo' on the legs, fillipping the fingers and toes, and generally administering a mild ‘kneading. The result seems to be ‘nil,' but many Europeans declare that the operation is a very soothing and soporific one.
The second morning of our stay at Hakoni dawns clear and bright, and soon after an early breakfast we walk for a mile or more up the Atami path to the summit of a hill about 900 feet above the Hakoni Lake. From this point we enjoy a superb view of the lake with its surrounding mountains, of the rich plains spreading away from the slopes of these mountains, of Fusi-Yama with his