THE JAPS AT HOME.
—•-+— ' A Budget of Good Things About Our Eastern Allies.
If a Jap invites you to his house, you would' probably be shown into the dining-room; but, if you werp to call again next morning, you would' be surprised to find that that room had disappeared, and its place was occupied by perhaps the best bedroom or a general sitting-room. For, as Sir Henry Norman puts it in "The Real Japan" (Fisher, Unwin), "when you wish to make a new room you simply 'form square' by sliding enough panels in their grooves to enclose the space; or, at your pleasure, all the rooms can be thrown into one."
In Japanese houses chairs an/1 tables arc quite unknown, and when you are tired you throw yourself on the floor, which is kept scrupulously clean, so that there is no danger of spoiling your white linen suit, The Japanese posture of repose is to scat oneself on ono's heels, and this is very painful at first. THE CHARM OF CHOP STICKS. When you wish to retire for the nifj«it, you do not get up and go to your bed-room; you merely remain where you arc, and slide the wall round the spot you have chosen for your slumbers. The most comfortable way,is to have a "futon," or thick quilt, and roll yourself in a rug or blanket upon it. On being invited to dine at the house of a Japanese gentleman, he will greet you with :
"How can you condescend to come to such a poor house as this ?"
And your reply should bo
"How can you, indeed, tic so kind as to receive such an unimportant person as myself under your distinguished roof ?" These speeches are punctuated with low bows, and the sound of breath sucked rapidly between the teeth which express the great honour jour host feels at your condescension in .visiting his humble home. Dinner begins with a l:f.nd of soup and fish in a lacquer bowl. You drink the soup, and eat the fish with your chopsticks. According to Sir Henry,'it is quite easy to acquire the art of eating with chopsticks. The next course consists of four or five little heaps of food on a lacquer dish —a puree of chestnuts, a salmi of some small bird or wildfowl, a few boiled lily-roots, and a mess of stewed seaweed. Then follows sake, a kind of wine resembling dry sherry, which is'always served warm. It is drunk from tiny cups, each holding a tablespoonful. Your glass is continually kept full by the servants, who squat in a ring round the diners.'
Next comes a course which most foreigners prefer to keep at a distance. It cousists of some pink-and-ivhite morsels, with tiny portions of different salads, on a minute wire gridiron. They are raw fish which look much better than they taste, Finally, comes cakes and tea. At an early stage of the meal pipes are brought in, and you smoke delicious-ly-smelling Japaneso tobacco. Bach pipe is only big enough for two whiffs, so "filling up" occupies' a great proportion of your time.
At these meals, the perfect goodhumour and camaraderie of everybody is truly delightful. The meal is punctuated by endless jests, continual laughter, and mutual compliments all round. Throughout the meal geishas, exquisitely garbed, whose dainty grace is only rivalled by their charm of manner, entertain the guests with song and dance. OBEDIENCE ! Woman's "paramount duty" in Japan is obedience —if a daughter, .to her father; if a wife, to her husband; if a widow, to her eldest son. A Japanese girl accepts her husband at the will of her parents. At one time Japanese wives stained their teeth black on their wedding-day, and shaved their eyebrows when the first baby was born, Marriage is a purely civil contract, without religious or official ceremony. Wives are addressed as "a honourable lady of the house," and are accorded every respect,