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One of the two swords always worn is specially
devoted to harikari.

A Japanese carries his pocket in his bosom.
Secure among the crossing folds of his gay
-coloured robe is his paper pocket-handkerchief,
his tablets, chopsticks, medicines, the
sweetmeats which he gives to women and
children, his pencils, compass, calendar, and a
host of minor things. For this folded bosom
is a more capacious omnium gatherum than even
a schoolboy's favourite pocket, and does its
owner better service. Who defined man as " an
animal with pockets?" The definition holds
good in Japan, where this one bosom bag does
the work of half a dozen pockets, and vindicates
the wisdom of the definer. Clean and
careful, the Japanese never dishonour the
interior of their houses by wearing in them the
same shoes as they have used out of doors, but
always put on clean sandals for the fine white
mats and dainty neatness of the house. Indeed
the whole expression of Japanese life is its
scrupulous neatness, and the attention paid to
outward things. Its bathings and scrubbings and
changes of dress and polite handing of teacups
and picturesque arrangement of gardens, its
forms and ceremonies and bows and
genuflexions, its police with stiff wings and silk trousers,
its gentlemen with fluttering fans and its
ladies with got-up faceseverything is cared
for, and nothing left to nature or neglect. But
if small observances are carried too far, and too
great a fuss is made about trifles, the Japanese
scrupulosity has a reasonable outgrowth sometimes.
There is the institution of the Ottona,
for instance, the governor of his hundred, the
appointed guardian or watchman of his quarter,
what a capital idea that is, and how admirable
for cities like the Japanese! The Ottona is the
officer in whose sole responsible charge is placed
a certain small district or division of the city,
and who, together with all his family, is accountable
for any theft, robbery, violence, murder, or
any other crime that may take place therein.
At every hundred yards or so, you come to a
gate, which is closed at a certain hour in the
evening, with a huge paper lantern hung over
it. The business of the Ottona is to learn the
business of every passer by that gate, why he
has invaded his district, what he means to do in
it, and where he means to go; by such
universal checks and spying, scarcely a mouse
can creep in the Japanese cities without being
challenged, watched, reported, and followed.
Therefore, whenever a theft or any other crime
is committed there is no hope of escape for the
criminal; for the Ottona knows every one in his
district, and can trace the footsteps of a stranger
as accurately as if they had been made in snow.
This Japanese office of the hundred, is something
like the old Saxon institution of the same
name; but those provoking barriers at every
few yards would ill suit with the restless, up-
all-night population of London, or any of our
great towns, and would soon raise up an army
of Rebeccaites if tried across the streets.

Japan, like China, has its interminable pasta
past of special excellence which the present cannot
reach. It has its old lacquer, of which the
secret seems to be now lost, for the best modern
productions do not equal the ancient in beauty
or value; and it has its old porcelain, against which,
the modern can set but very slender pretensions
of merit. But then there is the future, when
its vast coal-fields will be worked, and its lead-
mine explored, and all the mineral wealth lying
round the fiery Fusiyama brought into use; and
perhaps the future resources will outweigh even
old lacquer and antique porcelain, and bring
something better to the country than harikari and the
Mikado. The Japanese are very proud of their
lacquer, and immensely tenacious of it; a gentleman
holding pieces of it as dishonourable to part
with it as an English nobleman does to part with
his family plate or inherited pictures.

The Japanese ladieswho pluck out their
eyebrows and blacken their teethhold a very
fair position in society; but, something like the
German " house-mother," are chiefly domestic
and drudging. Still they are free, and not fettered,
as in China, by any absurd custom of
national mutilation. Though the family tie is held
so strict, and married fidelity so proudly insisted
on, yet the most public lapses before marriage is
not the smallest barrier to a happy marriage and a
respectable position, with the esteem, good will,
and countenance of the most blameless matrons
of the quarter. There is a very curious mixture
of the tainted and the pure going on in all the
tea establishments and other places of public
resort; but the tainted are not despised, nor
the pure considered to be contaminated, and
any two-sworded grandee might wipe away the
last remembrance of shame from the name of
her whom he may choose to be his wife.

Our information as yet is very scanty and imperfect;
and we must not accept too implicitly
all that we are told, even by English consuls. We
must wait yet awhile before we can speak as of
knowledge; meanwhile let us hope that Eves are
fair and serpents few in the groves and plains of
our bright and distant Eastern Eden.

Will be continued (to be completed next March.)

Now Ready, price Fourpence,

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