Japan - Trip To The Sacred Mountain
( Originally Published 1915 )
It was fortunate that they had removed their belongings to the hotel when they left the vessel the night before. This was one gratifying thing, under the circumstances. After resting a while they began considering the question of their future course.
"I suppose we shall have to try to get to China in some way, and the quickest way will be to wait for a boat," said Winfield.
Stanwood reflected on that proposition for some time, and answered : "I believe it would be a good idea to take a tramp through Japan. Let us see the map. See here; the steamers stop at Kobe, and also at Nagasaki."
"I knew they stopped at Nagasaki, but Kobe is a new place to me. How far is Kobe from here?" asked Winfield.
"It says 359 miles."
"That's not very far. I feel as though I would like to take a tramp for a while."
"That just suits me. When shall we start?" asked Stanwood.
"First thing in the morning. If we get tired we can take the train anywhere, and it will be fun to see the Japs right at home," and with this disposition of the matter Winfield began to busy him-self with packing up their belongings.
Stanwood sat here for a few moments and said: "But how about our things? we have too many to carry now."
"Then suppose we ship what we don't need to,—to,—"
"Where?" interrupted Stanwood.
"Well, either Kobe or Nagasaki," and Winfield picked up the map, and pored over it. "Yes, I think we ought to decide on Nagasaki."
"But how about staying here for the night?" asked Stanwood.
"The cost is too much."
"What do you suppose it is?"
"Five dollars for both of us."
"That means with the meals thrown in."
"All right here goes. I can use five dollars to better advantage;" and Stanwood picked up the package, and together they visited the office of a transportation company and arranged for the shipment of the package, which was directed to the care of the Oriental Shipping Company at Nagasaki.
There was no difficulty in finding a neat and clean room, for the night, at a cost of a yen, and for twenty-two sen they had a substantial break-fast, at one of the daintiest little places they had met in all their travels.
They had provided an itinerary, which would take them, first, west, toward the Sacred Mountain, and then onward in the direction of Nagoya, 165 miles distant. Passing along the main avenue they noticed the words "Welcome Society" on a sign.
"That looks American like," said Stanwood. Below were the words: "Kihin-kai."
Winfield had doubts, but urged by Stanwood they ascended the stairway, and entered the open door. A young man appeared and smiled as they approached.
We saw the sign and thought we would step in," remarked Winfield.
Glad to see you," he answered. "Are you from America?"
"Yes; from New York, and we are on a trip around the world."
"The society is for the purpose of giving any assistance and advice to travelers. Can we be of any service to you?"
"Possibly you can," answered Stanwood. "We are just starting on a trip to Nagasaki, and you might tell us whether the route we picked out is the best, and if it is safe?"
The young man looked over the penciled lines, and said : "You have considerable discrimination, I see. You will find it safe everywhere, except at certain places, which I will mark out, or trace with a red pencil; but generally, you will find that the people are the best judges of the communities where you must take special care of yourselves."
Thanking him for the advice and admonition they started on the first part of their eventful journey across Japan. As they passed out of the door, Winfield turned and said: "Are there any places where we may not be likely to find people who can speak English'? I have wondered what we would do in a case of that kind."
"Possibly in some of the smaller places it may be difficult to find interpreters, but you will find, all along the route, that there are some who have been to America or to England. You will find the same conditions wherever you go throughout Nippon."
Winfield smiled. He had heard the word be-fore, and noticed it everywhere, since they landed. "Would you mind telling me why it is called Nippon?"
"That is the native name of the Empire. The word Dai, meaning great, is usually placed before Nippon. That is usually applied to the main island, Hondo."
"How many islands are there?" asked Stanwood.
"About 4000." Winfield have a little whistle, indicating astonishment.
"The word Nippon means Land of the Rising Sun," he continued, "and our word Japan is taken from the name Zipango, which the great traveler, Marco Polo, took from the word Nippon."
For more than ten miles they followed the road where they had been taken the day before in the 'rickshaw, and finally brought up at a little tea house at the junction of three roads. While sip-ping tea, and eating the little cakes provided, they inquired the road toward the mountain.
The proprietor, who had a fairly good knowledge of English, advised them to take the middle road which would lead them to the upper plateau by a more gradual ascent. A half hour's rest and the refreshments invigorated them, and they trudged along with renewed vigor.
Many of these roads were very narrow, not wide enough at places for two ordinary teams to pass. Twice during the first mile a rider on a bicycle came up behind, and each time they heard the cry jitenski. The third time Winfield said:
"I am going to find out what that word means when the next fellow comes along. That,="
"Jitenski!" shouted a voice. The boys stopped in the middle of the road and turned to greet the man, while Winfield held up his hand.
The man came up and stopped short. "What do you mean by that?" inquired Winfield, for the first time noticing that the rider of the bicycle was a white man.
"Hello, America!" said the man as he leaped from the machine.
"How do you know we are from America?" said Stanwood, as he approached the man.
He laughed and said: "Oh, you have it written all over you. I'm from the United States myself. Came from Texas two years ago. What are you doing here? What are those uniforms? Saw some of the fellows with them on a month ago."
The boys laughed at the questions and at the brisk way in which he introduced himself.
"We're going around the world," said Win-field. "This is our second day in Japan, and we've heard that word often enough today, and want to know what it means."
"Jitenski, or something like it."
"Oh, that's the native name for bicycle, and it means you must clear the track." .
"I thought some of those fellows looked at us in a queer way," said Stanwood.
They soon learned that their fellow countryman was a resident of a little village which they had passed earlier in the day. The man was so de-lighted to meet them that he walked alongside his wheel until he reached his destination two miles beyond, and then giving them his name, on a neatly-printed card, he bade them good-by.
A mile beyond the village was a fork, one branch leading northwardly, and the other to the southwest. The travelers were in a quandary as to which direction to take, but noticing a cottage to the right they approached it, and addressed a native who was watching them.
"Can you tell me which road to take to the mountain?" asked Stanwood.
The man stared at them for a moment, and the question was repeated but he failed to comprehend. Then, on a sudden inspiration, Winfield took out the map, and indicated the mountain of Fuji Yama. The eyes of the man lit up and lie pointed to the road leading to the right.
"Then the road to right Ieads to the mountain?" queried Winfield.
The man nodded his head in approval, and uttered a distinct No. This puzzled the boys, and they again pointed to the road leading to the north, and again the negative word was uttered.
They backed away, and the man smiled as they moved out to the street, and when they came to the fork concluded that the southern road was meant. Before proceeding far they heard foot-steps behind, and the man came up hurriedly while motioning that they should go back and take the other road.
"No!" said Winfield, with vehemence, and the man again nodded his head and smiled.
But they heeded the advice, nevertheless, and when they were beyond reach of the man, Winfield stopped and glanced at Stanwood. "Do you think I'm going to take advice of an idiot? That fellow's crazy. Couldn't you see it in his expression 7"
"That may be so. We've met people like that before. But I don't want to go back; he may be on the watch for us. I wonder if that `Welcome Society' fellow has a red mark on the map at this place?" and Stanwood took out the map and care-fully examined it.
Winfield laughed at this queer suggestion, but they pored over the route again. "Why, the map shows we are on the right road; I am sure of that."
The map was replaced and they marched on, not without some misgivings, you may be sure.
Everywhere on the way they met people, most of them on foot, but many who rode wheels. They were also surprised to find that few of the people had baby carriages. The mode of carrying little children and babies was by means of a sort of swing, made up of a shawl thrown around the shoulders, so it formed a bag at the back, and into this the infants were placed, and the women trudged along without seeming to notice the bur-den.
At one place, in a little garden patch, they saw a woman with one of these carriers on her back, tilling the ground with a short hoe, the child mean-while quietly sleeping.
But the boys grew to be very observant, as they passed the many people on the way.
"Did you ever see any of the natives here with a hat on?" said Stanwood, as he noticed a group ahead.
Yes; that struck me the moment we reached Yokohama. But did you ever see any one who wore leather shoes?"
"Not any of the natives. I don't think they wear shoes here at all. Notice the people ahead are barefooted," said Stanwood.
"One of them has a kind of slippers. I wonder what they do in the winter time?"
Thus the trip continued with its many unusual sights until shortly before six o'clock they reached a small town that offered them a place to sleep, and they were directed to an inn close by the main road. They indicated a desire for a room, and the woman smilingly indicated that they should follow. They were led to the rear, through a wide hall, which was more like a reception room, and ushered into a neat room, the floor of which was covered with matting.
Glancing about, they saw that it contained two screens and several oddly-shaped mats, or cushions. There were no beds, or chairs, or bureaus, nor anything like closets, although the side walls were neatly decorated, and the matting scrupulously clean. '
Thinking the woman had misinterpreted their mission, Winfield said: "We want a sleeping room, please."
She turned her head to one side for a moment, as though trying to understand the request better, and Winfield continued: "Something to sleep on.
She turned suddenly and passed through the door, and quickly returned bearing a folded quilt, or thickly padded mattress, and unfolded it, nod-din, meanwhile to indicate that she knew the nature of the request.
"This is a nice place, and I suppose we shall have to make that do," said Stanwood, and the latter nodded in approval, but Winfield shook his head doubtfully.
Noticing the action, she hurriedly went out the door and brought in several more of the same articles. This suited Winfield, and lie nodded, while she made a remark, which, of course, was unintelligible. She repeated this several times, and finally imitated the act of eating.
That sort of language is intelligible the world over, and the boys both gave a vigorous nod. A half hour thereafter there was the lightest tap, and when Stanwood opened the door the odor of the cooking did not require an interpreter, and they were ready for the first formal meal in the interior of Japan.
As they marched through the hall Winfield nudged Stanwood, and remarked: "If the meal is anything like our room, I am thinking we shall be pretty hungry before morning."