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Japan Comparisons with China

hills, people, nagasaki, inland and artist

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JAPAN COMPARISONS WITH CHINA A Holiday—Comparisons with China.

I found Shanghai, when I returned at the end of June, sweltering in damp heat. The people looked pasty, limp, and tired. The energy of the spring had gone, and, though I had been in great heat at Hangchow, my life in the open air kept me from feeling it as much as people shut up, even in those city offices furnished with electric fans and all modern appliances. .

Clothes of the thinnest material were of course in use. The evening walk or drive to the Bubbling Well Road was the only chance of coolness, and this was very slow. Most people were talking of where they would go out of the heat, and nowadays they have a great choice without leaving China. Wei-hai-wei takes many, Cheefoo is an old favourite resort, and Pei-tai-ho a new one. Many go inland to the hills, others seek greater change in Japan ; and as I was told I would find it too hot to work out of doors in Northern China, I deter mined to have a short spell in Japan.

My relatives were going north to Pei-tai-ho, and invited me to join them there later on. So to Little Nippon I set sail, arriving, after a pleasant and uneventful passage, in Nagasaki, the first port of call.

The entrance and appearance of this port, as indeed of all Japan, reminded me most of Scotland, particu larly of the west coast. Wooded hills run down to the water's edge, the harbour being a natural inlet in the hills.

Like all Japanese towns, Nagasaki is largely built of wood, the houses small and rather cheap looking. The people are distinctly cleaner in appearance than the Chinese, and very distinctly Westernised. True, the national costume is there still, but it is only worn by the coolie classes. The better-class Jap dresses in European clothes, and is no end of a swell. The natural result is a loss of picturesqueness and distinction.

The shops are very interesting, and there is plenty to amuse the visitor. Our ship only made a short stay, and I and a few other passengers employed the time in a stroll through the town, and a very pleasant ricksha ride to the small fishing-village of Mogi, a pretty little place on the other side of the peninsula from Nagasaki.

One great difference between Japan and China is the good roads almost everywhere in the former, roads that seem well engineered. The road we took wound about up the hillside and through a narrow gully and tunnel at the top, and then on down, passing rice-fields laid out in terraces one below the other, and irrigated by a cunningly stream rising above and carried from terrace to terrace.

Mogi was a great contrast to some of the Chinese villages I had recently visited. Its cleanliness was obvious as the dirt of the other was more than obvious, but this very cleanliness and tidiness made it less picturesque to the artist, if more pleasant to the visitor.

Nagasaki is one of the ports where an artist for some obscure reason is not allowed to sketch without permis sion. I suppose, in spite of their training, the people cannot yet understand the difference between an artist who wishes to make pictures and an engineer who might draw some of their fortifications ; yet you can go into any little shop and buy dozens of postcards, with views of all the places and many of the forts, &c.

From Nagasaki we very soon got into the far-famed Inland Sea. The weather was perfect, the ship Toyo Kishen Kaisha S.S. America Maru comfortable, and my fellow-passengers very good company. This part of the voyage was altogether delightful. The calm sea, with hills in view all the time, and ever-changing colours, lights and shadows, was beautiful. I thought of the times when I sailed up the Kyles of Bute and other West of Scotland seas. There is a great similarity, but the Japanese hills are less wooded, and of course the craft one sees is different—the fishing-boats, with their big white sails and light-coloured, unpainted woodwork, with the almost naked bodies of the fishermen gleaming in the sun. Certainly the Inland Sea of Japan deserves all that has been said in praise of it.

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