Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
Town of Kanagawa The Imperial highway Travellers upon it Princes Pack-horses Mendicant priests Blind men Beggars, &c. Visit to the temple of Bokengee The umbrella pine-tree Sintoo temples Scenery Thatched roofs Valuable elm The farmer and his chrysanthemums Tomi His one fault Temple of To-rin-gee Scenery by the way Thujopsis dolabrata Farm-houses Tea-plant Fruit-trees Yedo vine Vegetables Trees and shrubs of the district The male aucuba Geological features.
THE port of Kanagawa, named in the treaty as the location of foreigners, is situated on the northern side of a deep bay or inlet; Yokuhama being placed on its southern shore. The consuls of the different Treaty powers were living in temples on the Kanagawa side at the time of my arrival; and as an old friend of mine, Mr. Josι Loureira, the manager for Messrs. Dent and Co., of China, who was also consul for Portugal and France, was residing there, he kindly offered me quarters in his temple during my stay. Nothing could have suited me better than this arrangement. There was plenty of room, both in the house and in the garden, for any collections of natural history which I might get together; and I was on the highway to Yedo, and in the midst of a most fertile and interesting country.
Kanagawa is a long narrow town stretching for several miles along the shore of the bay, and having one principal street, and that the Tokaido or great highway of Japan. The place is mentioned in the books of the old Dutch travellers, and is said by them to contain about six hundred houses, and to be twenty-four miles from the capital. It is probably about this distance from the Nipon Bas, or bridge in Yedo, from which distances are measured to all parts of the empire; but it is not more than sixteen or eighteen miles from the western end of the city of Yedo. It contains a great number of inns and tea-houses; and here the Dutch generally slept on the last night of their journey overland from Nagasaki to Yedo. On the following day they entered the capital. The shops are generally poor and mean, and contain few articles except the mere necessaries of life. A little way back from the main street, at intervals all the way along the town, are Buddhist temples and cemeteries. These temples are often found in the most charming situations, and they are the finest and most substantial buildings in Kanagawa. In some instances they are surrounded with pretty gardens, containing specimens of the favourite flowers of the country. It is in some of these temples that the consuls of the Treaty powers have been located. The good priests do not object to find quarters of an inferior kind both for themselves and for their gods, providing they are well paid for their trouble in turning out.
The Tokaida, or great highway of the country, is thronged all day long with people going to or returning from the capital. Every now and then a long train of the servants and armed retainers of one of the Daimios lords or princes of the empire may be seen covering the road for miles. It is not unusual for a cortιge of this kind to occupy two or three hours in passing by. Men run before and call upon the people to fall down upon their knees to do honour to the great man, nor do they call in vain. All the people on both sides of the way drop down instantly on their knees, and remain in this posture until the norimon or palanquin of the prince has passed by. A Daimio's procession is made up in the following manner: First comes the prince himself in his norimon, followed by his horse and retainers, armed with swords, spears, and matchlocks; then follow a number of coolies, each carrying two lacquered boxes slung across his shoulder on a bamboo pole. After these again there is another norimon, with an official of some kind; then more coolies with boxes, more retainers, and so on. The number of the followers is often very large, and depends upon and is regulated by the wealth and rank of the Daimio.
Kζmpfer informs us "that it is the duty of the princes and lords of the empire, as also of the governors of imperial cities and crown lands, to go to court once a year to pay their homage and respect. They are attended, going and returning, by their whole court, and travel with a pomp and magnificence, becoming as well their own quality and riches as the majesty of the powerful monarch whom they are going to see. The train of some of the most eminent fills up the road for some days."
If two or more of these Daimios should chance to be travelling the same road, at the same time, they would prove a great hindrance to one another, particularly if they should happen to meet at the same post-house or village. This is avoided by giving timely notice, and by engaging the inns and post-houses a month or six weeks beforehand. The time of their intended arrival is also notified in all the cities, villages, and hamlets, by putting up small boards on high poles of bamboo, signifying in a few characters what day of the month such and such a lord will be at that place to dine and sleep there.
Street in Kanagawa. The Tokaido or Imperial Highway
When the retinue of the great man has passed by, the stream of every-day life flows on along the great Tokaido as before. No carts are used on this part of the road. Everything is carried on pack-horses, and these are passing along the road in great numbers all day long. Each horse is loaded with a pile of boxes and packages a formidable size oftentimes, surmounted by a man in a large broad-brimmed straw hat, who, from his exalted position, is guiding the movements of his horse. Generally, however, when passing through towns, the horses are led by the drivers. In addition to the huge pile of packages, it is not unusual for a little family, consisting of the mother and children, to be housed amongst them. On one occasion, as two foreigners of my acquaintance were out riding in the country, one of their horses shied, and, coming in contact with a loaded pack-horse, its burden came tumbling off, and was scattered over the road. On stopping to render the driver some assistance in reloading his horse, my friends were horrified to find a whole family scrambling about amongst the packages, amongst which they had been snugly stowed away.
Packhorse, with grass shoes
Besides the processions, pack-horses, and palanquins, the pedestrians on the Tokaido demand our attention. Some are crowned with queer-looking broad-brimmed straw hats; others have napkins tied round their heads, and their hats slung behind their backs, only to be used when it rains or when the sun's rays are disagreeably powerful; while others again have the head bare and shaven in front, with the little pigtail brought forward and tied down upon the crown. Mendicant priests are met with, chanting prayers at every door, jingling some rings on the top of a tall staff, and begging for alms for the support of themselves and their temples. These are most independent-looking fellows, and seem to think themselves conferring a favour rather than receiving one. I observed that they were rarely refused alms by the people, although the same priests came round almost daily. To me the prayer seemed to be always the same namely, nam-nam-nam; sometimes sung in a low key, and sometimes in a high one. When the little copper cash the coin of the country was thrown into the tray of the priest, he gave one more prayer, apparently for the charity he had received, jingled his rings, and then went on to the next door. Blind men are also common, who give notice of their approach by making a peculiar sound upon a reed. These men generally get their living by shampooing their more fortunate brethren who can see. Every now and then a group of sturdy beggars, each having an old straw mat thrown across his shoulders, come into the stream which flows along this great highway.
Then there is the flower-dealer, with his basket of pretty flowers, endeavouring to entice the ladies to purchase them for the decoration of their hair; or with his branches of "skimmi" (Illicium anisatum), and other evergreens, which are largely used to ornament the tombs of the dead.
All day long, and during a great part of the night too, this continual living stream flows to and from the great capital of Japan along the imperial highway. It forms a panorama of no common kind, and is certainly one of the great sights of the empire. The blind travellers, of whom there are a great number, are said to prefer travelling by night when the road is less crowded, as the light of day makes no difference to them.
Having settled down for a time in Kanagawa, I now made daily excursions to different parts of the surrounding country. I was fortunate in making the acquaintance of the Rev. S. W. Brown, a missionary connected with the Dutch Reformed Church, United States, and of Dr. Hepburn, a medical missionary, formerly of Amoy, in China. They were living in some temples a short distance from where I was lodging; and as they had been some time in Japan, they were able to give me much valuable information.
My first question was, whether there were any large Buddhist temples in this part of Japan, similar to those I had been in the habit of visiting in China. My reason for wishing to get information on this head was the fact that, wherever Buddhist temples and Buddhist priests are found, there the timber is preserved on the hill-sides; and many of the rare trees of the country are sure to be met with adorning some of the courts of their temples. Mr. Brown informed me that there was a large monastery a short distance up one of the valleys, and kindly consented to accompany me thither. Our road led us up a beautiful and fertile valley, having low wooded hills on each side, and a little stream of pure water running down towards the sea, watering and fertilizing the rice-fields on its way. It was now the beginning of November, and the crops were yellow and nearly ready for the reaping-hook of the husbandman. It was a glorious autumnal day, the sun was shining above our heads in a clear sky, the air was cool, and everything around us was most enjoyable. A walk of two or three miles brought us to the temple of Bokengee. A broad path led up the hill-side to the main entrance of the temple. Various ornamental trees, some of great size and beauty, stood near the gateway. Just inside and in front of one of the principal temples, I was delighted to meet with a beautiful new pine, called Sciadopitys verticillata, the umbrella pine, or "Ko-ya maki" that is, "the maki of Mount Ko-ya" of the Japanese. A branch of this fine tree is figured and described in Dr. Siebold's 'Flora Japonica;' but a great mistake is made as regards its size. Siebold states that it forms an evergreen tree, for the most part twelve to fifteen feet high. On the contrary, the specimens met with in the vicinity of Kanagawa and Yedo were in many instances fully one hundred feet in height. However, as Siebold says that "he saw it cultivated in gardens," he probably had no opportunity of seeing a full-grown specimen. It is a tree of great beauty and interest. It has broad leaves of a deep green colour, arranged in whorls, each somewhat like a parasol, and is quite unlike any other genus amongst conifers. In general outline it is of a conical form, not spreading, and the branches and leaves are so dense that the stem is completely hidden from the view. It is impossible to say, until we have further experience, whether this fine tree will prove hardy in our English climate; but if it does so, it will be a very great acquisition to our list of ornamental pines.
The principal hall or temple of Bokengee is not remarkable either for its size or for its idols. But the hill-side is covered with small detached buildings, which appear to be not only residences but also seminaries for the Buddhist priesthood. These houses are situated in the midst of pretty gardens, each of which contains neat specimens, well cultivated, of the ornamental flowers of the country, and is surrounded with hedges kept neatly clipped and trimmed. The whole place is kept in the highest order, the broad walks are daily swept, and not a weed or dead leaf is to be seen anywhere.
At a higher elevation there are some large temples, which seem to be kept always closed. They are rather rough wooden buildings; but like all the other temples are beautifully thatched, and the ground and walks near them clean and in perfect order. We did not observe any priests near these temples; and they probably belong to the sect of Sintoos or Sinsyu, the original national religion of Japan, upon which Buddhism has been engrafted in some extraordinary manner.
Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys verticillata)
At the time of our visit to the monastery, the priests seemed all to be engaged in study or in prayer. Now and then the dull monotonous sound of some one of them engaged with his devotions fell upon our ears, but it soon ceased and all was still again. The sun was shining, and his rays streaming through the branches of the overhanging trees; a solemn stillness seemed to reign around us, and the whole place and scene reminded one of a sabbath in the country at home.
There are many pleasant and shaded walks in the woods about these temples. Taking one of the paths which led up the hill, we wandered to the summit and obtained some charming views. On one side we looked down on the roofs and gardens of the temples, and our eyes wandered from them over the valley to the richly-wooded hills beyond. Turning to the westward, the mountains of Hakone lay before us, with the beautiful Fusi-yama half-covered with snow, and looking like the queen of the mountain scenery. These were glorious views, and will long remain vividly impressed upon my memory.
Before quitting the monastery of Bokengee, we examined minutely the manner in which the temples were built, and more particularly their thatched roofs. The walls were formed of a framework of wood nicely fitted and joined, but apparently not very massive in construction. This was rather extraordinary, owing to the great thickness and weight of the framework of the roof. No doubt, however, the sides were strong enough to support the roof, heavy though it was. All the roofs of the temples were thatched with a reed common to the country, and never, in any other part of the world, have I seen such beautiful thatching. Indeed this is a subject of admiration with every foreigner who visits Japan. On carefully examining the structure of one of these buildings, one soon sees the principles on which it is put up, and the reasons for its peculiar construction. Buildings such as we erect in England would be very unsafe in a country like Japan, where earthquakes are so common and so violent. Hence the main part of a Japanese house is a sort of skeleton framework; every beam is tied or fastened to its neighbour; so that, when the earth is convulsed by these fearful commotions, the whole building may rock and sway together without tumbling down. In order to render these buildings more secure, it seems necessary to have the roof of great strength and weight, and this accounts for their heavy and massive structure.
In the woods of this part of Japan there is a very fine elm-tree, called by the Japanese Keaki (Ulmus keaki of Siebold). This is often used in the formation of the strong beams which support the roofs of these temples. The wood of this tree is extremely handsome; and as all the framework is fully exposed to view, this is, of course, a matter of great importance.
On our way home we visited many of the little farm-houses which are situated at short intervals on the lower sides of the hills; each had its little garden attached to it. In one of these gardens we found a very fine collection of chrysanthemums. I was most anxious to secure some of them for my collections, but, thinking the farmer only cultivated them for his pleasure, I did not like to offer him money, nor did I care to beg. My scruples were soon set at rest by the owner hinting that I might have any of them I pleased by paying for them at a certain rate. I need scarcely say we soon came to terms, and in a very short space of time the little farmer, with his flowers on his back, was trudging behind us on our way to Kanagawa. This was my first purchase in Japan, and I lost no time in making the following note, namely, that the Japanese were very much like their Chinese friends over the water, and that no difficulty was so great that it could not be overcome by a little liberality.
My next object was to procure a native of this part of the country to assist me with my collections, and more particularly to act as a guide. A man named Tomi was recommended to me as a person likely to suit my purpose. Tomi had been a kind of pedler, and had wandered up and down the country for many years. Everybody knew Tomi, and Tomi knew everybody. Latterly he had been in the service of some foreigners at Kanagawa, who gave him a high character for intelligence and activity. But it was rumoured that Tomi had, in common, I am sorry to say, with many of his countrymen, one serious fault, and that was, he was particularly fond of saki the wine, or rather whisky, of Japan. It was added, however, that he rarely indulged until the evening, and that he was generally to be depended upon during the day. As his knowledge of the country was of great importance in my investigations, I thought he would perhaps suit me better than any one else, and so I engaged him.
Tomi was now my daily guide all over the country, and I must do him the justice to say he performed his work to my entire satisfaction. In the mornings he looked rather red about the eyes, as if he had been indulging freely during 'the preceding night; but he kept sober, for the most part, during the day.
The weather was delightful; day after day the sun was shining in a clear sky, the air was cool, and I could walk all day long with the greatest comfort. The seeds of the different trees and shrubs of the country were now ripening; and my great object was to secure a supply of all the ornamental kinds for exportation to Europe. More particularly I was desirous of procuring seeds of the Sciadopitys, already described, of the Thujopsis dolabrata, and of the different pines, yews, and arborvitζ.
One morning Tomi informed me he had found out a temple in the country where there were some fine trees of Thujopsis dolabrata. This was good news; so we started off together to see the trees, and if possible to procure some seeds. Our road led us up a valley somewhat like that by which I had gone to Bokengee. The scenery was of the same beautiful character fertile valleys and richly wooded hills, which even at this time of the year (November) had a green and summer-like appearance, owing to the number of evergreen trees and shrubs which are indigenous to the country. Sometimes our road gradually ascended, and carried us along the tops of the hills, which here form a kind of table-land, the whole of which is under cultivation. It is impossible for me to describe the beautiful views that were continually presenting themselves as we passed along. Looking seaward, the smooth waters of the Bay of Yedo lay before us, dotted all over with the little white sails of fishing-boats, whose produce was to supply the market of that populous capital. Strange ships, of another build and rig, lay quietly at anchor abreast of Yokuhama. Their tall masts and square yards proclaimed them to belong to the nations of the far West. Looking inland, the view from the hilltops was ever-changing but always interesting and beautiful. Rice valleys, farmhouses, and temples lay below us; beyond them were low hills, then valleys again, and so on, until the eye rested on a sea of hills on the far-off horizon.
A walk of a few miles brought us to a little temple nestled amongst some woods on a hill-side. The name of this temple was To-rin-gee. A small avenue of trees leads up from a rice valley to the temple, and ends at a flight of stone steps. On each side of the steps there is a grassy bank covered with bushes of azalea, aucuba, and other ornamental shrubs. Ascending the stone steps we found ourselves on a level with the temple, and in a pretty garden filled with flowers, and kept in the most perfect order.
The temple of To-rin-gee is a small one, and has only one priest and priestess to minister at its altars. It is cleanly kept, the floors are covered with mats, and many of the walls are ornamented with pictures. Works of art are highly appreciated by these people; and I afterwards, at their urgent request, presented them with some pictures from 'Punch' and the 'Illustrated London News,' with which they were highly pleased. The priest and priestess received us most kindly, and, as they appeared to be well acquainted with Tomi, we soon found ourselves quite at home. The screens of the little verandah were drawn, and we were invited to seat ourselves on the clean mats that covered the floor. Some delicious tea, made, in Chinese fashion, without milk or sugar, was set before us, and proved very agreeable.
While we sipped our tea I had time to make some observations on the surrounding scenery. A quiet and secluded rice valley formed the foreground to the picture; hills were on each side of us and behind us, densely covered with trees of many different kinds. Pines, evergreen oaks, chesnuts, bamboos, and palms the latter giving a somewhat tropical character to the scenery were the most common species. On a hill-side to the right of where we sat I observed a grove of the beautiful Thujopsis dolabrata, which I had come to look for.
A stillness, almost solemn, reigned amongst these woods and temples, broken at times only by the call of the cock pheasant, or the rich clear note of some songster of the woods. What a charming place for a hermit, or for some one tired of the busy scenes and oppressing cares of the world!
But I had not come here to meditate only; and, therefore, setting down my teacup, I intimated to the good priest that I wished to pay a closer visit to the "Asnero," the Japanese name for Thujopsis dolabrata. The old man kindly led the way. On arriving at the grove of these trees we found an old cemetery amongst them; and they had, no doubt, been planted there, along with a number of Cryptomerias, at the time the cemetery was first made.
The "Asnero" is a beautiful tree, straight, symmetrical, attaining a height of 50 to 100 feet, and having leaves of a fine dark-green colour. They are imbricated, or overlap each other on the stems, and look almost as if they had been plaited. Beneath they are of a silvery hue, which gives them a somewhat remarkable appearance when blown about by the wind. We could observe some bunches of seeds on some of the higher branches. These were not very easily reached; but both Tomi and I being good climbers, we pulled off our shoes and mounted the trees, much to the astonishment of our good friend the priest, who stood quietly looking on at our proceedings.
The afternoon was far advanced before we had completed our researches in the vicinity of Torin-gee, and therefore, bidding adieu to the priest and priestess, we took our departure, choosing, on our homeward journey, a different road from that by which we came. As this road led us through a number of highly-cultivated valleys, I noted the state of the crops. The low rice-lands were now covered with that grain, yellow, and nearly ready for the sickle. On all the higher lands the young wheat and barley crops were now (Nov. 10th) above-ground. The seed is not sown broadcast as with us, but in rows two feet three inches apart. It is dropped in the drills by the hand, in patches, each containing from twenty-five to thirty grains of seed, and about a foot from each other in the drill. The land is particularly clean, and the whole cultivation resembles more that of a garden than of a farm.
Every now and then we came to a farm-house. These are generally situated on the dry land at the lower sides of the hills, having the wooded hills behind them and the rice valleys in front. All had thatched roofs like the temples I have already noticed, although not built in such an expensive and substantial way. In almost every instance a species of iris, "Sho-bu," was growing thickly on the flattened ridge of the roof, thus giving it a rural and not unpleasing appearance.
the road-sides, and also in the little gardens of the farmers and
cottagers, I frequently met with the tea-plant in cultivation. It was
not cultivated largely in this part of the country, but, apparently,
only in sufficient quantities to supply the wants of those around
whose houses it was growing. Fruit-trees of various kinds were common
also on the lower sides of these hills, and, generally, in the
vicinity of the villages. Pears, plums, oranges, peaches, chesnuts,
loquats, Salisburia nuts, and Diospyros kaki, are the most common
fruit-trees of this district.
Farm-houses near Yedo, with Iris on the Roofs
The vine in this part of the country produces fruit of great excellence. The bunches are of a medium size, the berries of a brownish colour, thin-skinned, and the flavour is all that can be desired. This grape may be valued in England, where we have so many fine kinds, and most certainly will be highly prized in the United States of America. A few years ago I was travelling from Malta to Grand Cairo, in company with Mr. Bryant the celebrated American poet, and a genuine lover of horticultural pursuits. This gentleman informed me that, owing to some cause, our European vines did not succeed very well on the other side of the Atlantic, and suggested the importance of introducing varieties from China, where the climate, as regards extremes of heat and cold, is much like that of the United States. I had never met with what I consider a really good variety of grape in China, and therefore have not been able to act on Mr. Bryant's suggestion. At last, however, we had here a subject for the experiment; and I urged its importance on Dr. Hall, of Yokuhama, who is an American citizen, and who has already introduced a number of plants into his country from China. He entered warmly into the matter, and no doubt will accomplish the object in view.
The winter vegetables met with were carrots, onions of several kinds, "lobbo" (a kind of radish), "gobbo" (Arctium gobbo), nelumbium roots, lily roots, turnips, ginger, Scirpus tuberosus, Arum esculentum, and yams.
Many of the forest-trees of this district are identical with those found about Nagasaki, which I have already noticed. The largest and most useful seem to be such as Pinus Massoniana, P. densora, Abies firma, Retinospora pisifera, R. obtusa, and Cryptomeria japonica; the latter attains a very great size, and seems peculiarly at home. I have already mentioned Thujopsis dolabrata and Sciadopitys verticillata. The maidenhair tree (Salisburia adiantifolia) is common about all the temples, and attains a great size. Here, as in China, the natives are very fond of its fruit, known in the Japanese shops by the name of "Gingko," and in China as "Pak-o" or white-fruit. Evergreen oaks, of several species, are common in the woods over all this part of Japan. They attain a goodly size, and are most ornamental trees. Chesnuts, of several kinds, are also common; the leaves of one species (Castania japonica) are used to feed a kind of silkworm. Acers or maples are also common trees; many of the leaves of these are beautifully marked with various colours, and almost all of them take on deep colours as they ripen in the autumn, and produce a most beautiful and striking appearance upon the landscape. But the elm already mentioned (Ulmus keaki) is perhaps the most valuable timber-tree in Japan. It was introduced into Europe, by Dr. Siebold, some years ago, but I have not heard whether or not it is suitable to our English climate.
Amongst shrubs a species of Weigela was common, which at first I supposed to be the W. japonica of Thunberg, but it now proves to be W. grandiflora. It is covered with flowers during the summer months, and is really very ornamental. Osmanthus aguifolius, covered with sweet-scented white flowers, was also met with. It belongs to Oleaceζ (the olive tribe), and is a fine ornamental evergreen bush. In the gardens there is a variety with variegated leaves, looking somewhat like the variegated holly.
This is a charming shrub, and if it proves hardy in our climate will be a great favourite. A new species of Aucuba, not variegated like the one in English gardens, but having leaves of the deepest and most glossy green, was found common in the shady parts of the woods and hedges, and has now been introduced into England. As a fine evergreen bush it will be greatly prized; and, in addition to this, it produces a profusion of crimson berries nearly as large as olives, which hang on all the winter and spring, like the holly-berries of our own country.
One of my objects in visiting Japan was to procure the male variety of the common Aucuba japonica of our gardens. This is perhaps the most hardy and useful exotic evergreen shrub we possess. It lives uninjured through our coldest winters, and thrives better than anything else in the smoke of our large towns. Hence it is met with everywhere, and is one of the most common plants in the parks, squares, and houses of London; but no one in this country has ever seen it covered with a profusion of crimson berries, as it is met with in Japan. It belongs to a class of plants which have the male and female flowers produced on different individuals. Curiously enough, all the plants in Europe were females, and hence the absence of fruiting specimens. On my arrival in Japan I lost no time in looking out for the male of this interesting species. I found it at last in the garden of Dr. Hall at Yokuhama, who has also a very interesting collection of the plants of Japan, and to whom I am indebted for much valuable information and assistance. This plant was sent home in a Wardian case, and I am happy to say it reached England in good health, and is now in the nursery of Mr. Standish at Bagshot. I look forward with much interest to the effects of this introduction. Let my readers picture to themselves all the aucubas which decorate our windows and gardens, covered, during the winter and spring months, with a profusion of crimson berries. Such a result, and it is not an improbable one, would of itself be worth a journey all the way from England to Japan.
The geological formation of this part of the country differs entirely from that about Nagasaki. The latter bears a striking resemblance to the hilly part of China in the same latitude; that is, the upper sides of the hills are generally barren, with rocks of clay-slate and granite protruding in all directions. About Yedo we meet with quite a different formation. (I have already described the substrata as exhibited by the sea-cliffs at Yokuhama.) The country inland consists of hill and valley; and with the exception of the celebrated mountain named Fusi-yama, and some others in its vicinity, the hills are only a few hundred feet above the level of the sea. The soil in the valleys, in which rice is the staple summer crop, is of a blackish-brown colour, almost entirely composed of vegetable matter, and resembles what we meet with in a peat-bog in England. Like that land it springs beneath the feet when one walks over it. The sloping sides of the hills are covered with trees and brushwood, the latter oftentimes being apparently of little value. Passing upwards through the belt of trees and brushwood, we next reach the tops of the hills. These are all comparatively flat, and thus a kind of table-land is the result. The soil of this table-land is exactly similar to that found in the marshy valleys below, that is, it is a soil closely resembling what is found in peat-bogs. Scarcely a stone or rock of any kind is met with, either in the valleys, on the hillsides, or on the table-land on the summits. A casual observer, on examining this black and apparently rich-looking soil, would think it very fertile, and capable of producing large crops; but in reality it is not so fertile as it looks, and foreigners generally remark on the little flavour the vegetables have which are grown on it.
How this peculiar formation was originally produced I am unable to explain. Whether this part of Japan was at some early period a flat peat-moss, and these hills formed by one of those fearful earthquakes for which the country is still famous, and which, according to tradition, forced up Fusi-yama in a single night to the height of more than 14,000 feet, I must leave to geologists to determine.