JAPAN 454. An ancient people.—Shunzo Ito's country is a very old country. For many hundreds of years Japan has had cities, temples, laws, books, and schools. Every boy and girl in Japan is expected to know how to read and write and tell about the history of the country back almost to the time when Moses lived in Egypt. At that time the present Emperor's ancestors began to rule Japan.
The Japanese are intelligent people. They read a great deal. There are many book stores in their towns, and they read more newspapers than any other people. They are brave, polite, and proud of their country.
The Japanese have many games and sports. Even the grown-ups play games with the children. The boys are fond of walking around on stilts, and of flying paper kites.
The little girls, on the third of March, have what is known as the Feast of Dolls. The peo ple like to watch wrestlers and acrobats do the most amazing things. Japanese acrobats often come to this country and give exhibitions of their skill.
The Japanese belong to the race of people called Mon golians. They are not quite as tall as Americans, and are of a brownish-yellow color, with straight black hair, and small, slanting, black eyes. They are very clean people; bath houses are almost as common in the cities and towns in Japan as drug stores are in this country. You might enjoy the bathing, but there is one custom of these people which you would not like. In order to make the little children strong and hardy, their mothers often duck them into cold rivers.
455. Beautiful Japanese love beautiful things. In the spring, when the cherry trees bloom, every body goes out to see them. The beautiful gardens are adorned with many flowers, and with little dwarf trees only a foot or two high, that have been kept in pots for hundreds of years. In the gardens are peach and cherry trees that produce no fruit, but have flowers almost as large as roses.
In Japanese homes one sees many carvings and other ornaments made of wood, metal, and lacquer ware. Lacquer is a kind of shiny varnish that is put on wood.
We might try ever so hard, but we could not make these things as the Japanese do.
Sometimes we find in our big stores a whole section showing lovely china, curious orna ments and toys, and rich embroideries from Japan. The Japanese have made these things for hundreds and hundreds of years.
456. A progressive people.— In 1854, Commodore Perry, with some American naval vessels, went to Japan. Before that time, the Japanese would have nothing to do with strangers. But they liked Com modore Perry and agreed to trade with the people of his country. They soon sent some of their young men over to America, to go to school and learn our ways cf doing things. Now Japan has railroads, tele graphs, telephones, many factories like our own, and a well-trained army. The Jap anese are a very shrewd, progressive people.
457. A poor country.—The Japanese Empire includes nearly four thousand islands lying along the coast of Asia, Letween snowy Kamchatka and the hot Philippines. Most of the people are on the big island of Honshu and on the two smaller islands to the south of it. Tokyo, the capital, is on Honshu. The northern island is too cold for the people to be able to grow much food. The Japanese also rule Dairen in China, and the peninsula of Korea. After the World War, the Peace Conference at Paris gave to Japan the peninsula of Shantung in China. It has Much coal and iron ore, and many people.
The country of Japan has very few things that help peo ple to make a living. There is little coal, little copper, and little iron; and no oil such as we have in the United States, or nitrates such as they have in Chile. Moun tains and hills cover most of the land, so that only a small part of it can be made into farms. Yet Japan has many people—more than the United Kingdom has. It has nearly half as many as the whole United States, even though the four main islands, where most of these people live, are smaller, all put together, than the state of California.