Japan's Success

Home

12. Chapter 12



PART II

Physical Characteristics and Population

The Japanese Empire consists geographically of a long chain of islands, with six large and innumerable smaller units, lying in the Pacific Ocean between 156° 32' east and 119° 18' west longitude, and 21° 45' south and 50° 56' north latitude. In a shorter sentence than this, giving merely the longitudinal and latitudinal position, the compilers of the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768) disposed of Japan, or the islands of Japan ! No more significant way of emphasizing how, during the succeeding century, Japan emerged from the nebulous state implied by that short paragraph to her present position can be found than by pointing to the contrast between the amounts of space afforded her in the first and eleventh editions of the Encyclopaedia.

In the north Japanese territory commences, at a short distance from the coast of Russian Siberia, in the island of Sakhalien, the southern half of which, i. e. from 50° north, was ceded to Japan by Russia in 1905, and is called Karafuto by the Japanese. Due south of this fish-shaped strip of land is the roughly quadrangular Hokkaido (Yezo), and south of Hokkaido is the largest link of the island chain, Honshiu, the mainland, curving like a bow from northwards to westwards, and having close under its western portion the island of Shikoku. West of Shikoku is Kiushiu ; south and west of this, and connected by a string of islets known as Riukiu, are Taiwan, the one-time Formosa, and the Pescadores islands. From east of Hokkaido the ' Myriad isles ' (Chishima), also known as the Kurile islands, straggle like steppingstones north and east to the peninsula of Kamchatka. In all, there are more than 3,000 islands, large and small.

The total area of the Empire, excluding the recently annexed Corea (Chosen), and disregarding islands with a coast-line of less than one ri (about 2 miles), is 174,690 square miles. Chosen has an area of 84,102 square miles.

The Sea of Japan, broadest where the northern half of Honshiu faces the centre of Chosen, and narrowing sharply into the Corean Straits in the south and the Mamiya Strait in the north, separates Japan from the Asiatic Continent, and is connected with the Pacific Ocean by the straits which part the various islands of Japan. The coast which it washes is comparatively little indented, and affords few harbours or safe roadsteads.

The celebrated Inland Sea, separating Shikoku from Kiushiu and both from Honshiu, is connected with the Sea of Japan by one channel, and with the Pacific by three narrow channels. It is sown with numerous islands of great and diversified scenic beauty, and, almost land-locked as it is, suffers little from storms.

Mountain and valley together constitute about seveneighths of the area of Japan, though there are some broad plains in Hokkaido, Honshiu, and Kiushiu. The Kwanto plain, wherein are situated Tokyo and Yokohama, is the largest, and the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe are all contained within the Kinai plain. Again, the chief coalfield of Japan is the Tsukushi plain. A large and well-defined range of mountains traverses Karafuto and Hokkaido from north to south, and continues through the centre of Honshiu, sending out many lateral branches. One range runs south through Kiushiu, Shikoku, and the Kii peninsula, and another north past Lake Biwa, finally joining the Karafuto range. Most of the high peaks are volcanic cones superimposed on mountains of more ancient origin; indeed, Japan stands over the most extensive system of volcanic veins in the world, and has still many active volcanoes which erupt disastrously from time to time. There are few volcanoes in the part of the country which faces the Pacific, but the western side abounds in them. One volcanic chain, the Fuji range, crosses Honshiu in a north-easterly direction. Another, the Kurile range, runs along Chishima and through Hokkaido to Honshiu, and a third, the Kirishima range, begins in Formosa and enters Kiushiu by way of the Riukiu islands. There is also the Midland range, which connects the Kurile and the Kirishima ranges. Hardly any of the mountains of Japan proper reach the perpetual-snow line. The highest peak, Niitakayama (14,270 feet), and the second highest, Mount Sylvia, are both in Formosa, the former in the centre of the island and the latter in the north. They are summits of the chief range which traverses the island from north to south, leaving the eastern side hilly and the western half vsdth a gentle slope seawards. The most famous of all Japanese mountains is of course Fuji-yama (yama or san = mountain) in the Fuji range, which rises in almost perfect symmetry to a height of 12,395 feet, with eight lakes at its foot formed of rivers dammed by comparatively recent outbursts of ashes and lava.

To compensate Japan for the peril which attends their restless presence, volcanoes have bequeathed her a priceless legacy in the form of her numberless hot springs. Of these there are more than a hundred known and reputed for their medicinal value - acid, saline, sulphurous, chalybeate, or carbonic, as the case may be.

Japan also suffers frequently from earthquakes, usually accompanied, when they visit the Pacific coast, by tidal waves in which thousands perish. Mild shocks, passing unnoticed except by the seismograph, occur two or three times daily ; but of really serious disturbances there are all too many.

Geologically, Japan consists largely of igneous rocks in the Kurile islands, Kiushiu, and the northern half of Honshiu. The mountain system consists of three main lines, and the rocks fall also into three groups : (a) plutonic rocks, particularly granite ; {b) volcanic rocks, chiefly trachyte and dolerite ; (f) palaeozoic schists.

The soil, general]y speaking, is moderately prolific, the tertiary and alluvial deposits forming a deep and friable mould, easily worked. This is the chief agricultural soil. The Quaternary argillaceous alluvial soils which occur along the banks of rivers and on the coasts are still more fertile. Lying low, they are well adapted to irrigation, and are, in consequence, chiefly used for rice culture.

The climate of Japan varies considerably, not only from north to south, as, from the length of the territory in this direction, might be expected, but also from east to west. Equatorial currents wash the Pacific shores of the islands, and mountain ranges intercept the cold winds, whereas the land facing the Japan Sea lies open to the north-west winds which blow over the cold Siberian plains. The cold is severe throughout the winter, and especially in January, in Sakhalien, Hokkaido, and the northern part "of the mainland. The yearly mean temperature noted at the meteorological station at Sapporo in Hokkaido is 44° F. On the other hand, the winter lasts but two months in the southern half of the mainland and in Shikoku and Kiushiu, January and February alone being recognized months of frost and snow, though these phenomena may occur also in the beginning of March. Tokyo and Kyoto have a mean annual temperature of 57° F. ; Nagoya, Sakai, and Okayama, also in Hbnshiu, 58° F. ; Osaka and Kobe, 59° F., and Nagasaki, 60° F. ; but farther north in the main island the yearly average is lower, being 52° F. at Ishinomaki, and 50° F. at Aomori. Formosa, of course, with its southern half in the torrid zone, is much warmer, and Taihoku has a mean annual temperature of 71° F.

Most of the rivers of Japan are short and rapid, characteristics imposed upon them by the fact that the islands are narrow and heaped towards the centre with mountain ranges. Their beds are wide in comparison to their length, but it is only in the summer rainy season and in spring when the snows are melting that they carry any great volume of water. At these seasons, indeed, they overflow their banks, causing heavy floods, but at other times of the year only a small portion of the bed is covered. Thus the rivers of Japan are poor from the standpoint of navigability, though such as are practicable are utilized to the full for transport purposes ; but a number of them are made to furnish electric energy for lighting, traction, and' other purposes, and power-stations are numerous. Many mines are worked entirely by hydro-electric power, and it is only lack of capital that limits the application of this force.

Many, in fact most, of the lakes of Japan are noted for their extraordinary beauty. The largest is Lake Biwa, in the Omi province in the centre of Honshiu, which has a circumference of about i8o miles.

Other moderately extensive lakes are Towada, in Mutsu (37 miles), and Inawashiro, in Inawashiro (33 miles). The eight lakes of Fuji are popular resorts, both of foreign tourists and of the Japanese, and Lake Ashi at Hakone, Lake Chuzenji at Uikko, and Lake Suwa at Shinano, are celebrated beauty spots. In Hokkaido the largest lake is Saruma, with a circumference of nearly 50 milej and there are two other large lakes - Doya and Onuma - whbse scenery is equal charming.

The growth of the population of Japan has been fairly regular during a sufficiently long period of years to make it possible to form"a reasonably accurate estimate, especially when we have the actual reckoning of 19 13 as a guide. Excluding Corea, Formosa, and Sakhalien, it was then 53,000,000, which would bring up the population of the Empire to 70,000,000 at the close of 1916.

Japanese children are as numerous and apparently as healthy, happy, and contented as ever. Ex-President Roosevelt's remarks upon ' the crime of sterility ' cannot be applied to the Japanese. In spite of the more strenuous demands due to the introduction of Occidental civilization, children in Japan occupy the same important place in the family and absorb the same amount of attention from their parents as they did in those days when European and American travellers in Japan wrote volumes about ' The Paradise of Children ' and the joyousness of child life in Japan.

Although the growth of cities and towns in Japan of late years has been remarkable, the bulk of the population reside in the rural districts, and Japan is essentially an agricultural country - that is to say, agriculture is her paramount industry and the industry which gives employment to the largest proportion of her population. Considering her resources and bearing in mind the fact that only about one-sixth of her area is arable, it is not a matter of surprise to find Japan looking to sources and lands outside her own boundaries to supplement her own resources and furnish employment for her constantly increasing population. More than 80 per cent, of the whole area of Japan proper still remains unutilized for purposes of tillage, and a large proportion must be regarded as uncultivable. There has been little change in the agricultural districts, and hand cultivation still predominates. Nevertheless, by intensive farming, the Japanese succeed in producing astonishingly large crops on small areas of arable land.

Whilst stock-farming, dairying, and meat-preserving form insignificant branches of Japanese farming, sericulture and the cultivation of the tea plant give additional and profitable occupation to hundreds of thousands, nearly all of whom are drawn from the agricultural population, and many of whom combine the occupations of farming with the preparation of tea for the market, or the filature industry with the manufacture of silk. In short, more than 60 per cent, of the population of the Empire are engaged in the pursuit of agriculture.

There are no complete returns of occupations for Japan, but an estimate may be arrived at by combining the special reports of specific industries. These figures may overlap, but after making allowance for such errors it is possible to obtain an idea of the relative importance of the different industries. A total of something over 33/4 millions are engaged exclusively in farming, whilst nearly if millions combine farming with some other industry. Nearly 11/2 million households pursue sericulture, but of course this work occupies only a part of the time of some of the members of the family. There are 890,000 manufacturers of tea, but it is not probable that this number of people give their entire time to the occupation. It is quite possible that an accurate enumeration would report that nearly all of these persons are engaged in agriculture and allied industries. In mining of all kinds, including coal, copper, and non-metallic mines, the numbers employed can be ascertained with a greater degree of accuracy, and probably represent a total of about 250,000. Fishing is an important occupation in Japan, and 1,000,000 are exclusively engaged in the fisheries, whilst i millions combine fishing with some other occupation. The forests cover some 60 per cent, of the area of Japan, and as the value of the annual yield in timber and faggots is about j7,ooo,ooo sterling, a good many persons must find employment during a part of the year as woodcutters, but apparently there are no returns from which estimates can be framed.

Turning to manufacturing industries conducted in factories and workshops, the latest returns give 307,139 men employed, and 493,498 women, totalling 800,637, or nearly double the number returned as employed in factories in 1896. These include textile industries, machinery, chemical factories, the manufacture of food and beverages, miscellaneous trades, and special workshops, such as those for electricity and metallurgy, but are, however, exclusive of weaving carried on outside the factories. This work is still largely conducted as a home industry, distributed throughout the towns and villages in nearly 500,000 ' weavinghouses ', with approximately 800,000 looms, only 30,000 of which are worked as power-looms. There are over threequarters of a million operatives.

Paper-making is also carried on in a similar way, and there are 60,000 small establishments and households with about three times as many operatives employed in producing Japanese paper. At the same time, a foreign paper industry has been started, and in ten years has doubled in importance, employing 15,000 hands.

The matting industry has remained stationary, and employs something over 100,000 hands. This is largely a family trade, the factories as a rule being nothing more than additions to the operatives' houses. Even more so is the straw and chip braid industry, in which the government reports 250,000 persons or more as being employed in producing articles which barely reach 500,000 in value. These occupations are therefore largely in the nature of home industries, carried on by women at times when they are free from household duties. For this reason it is extremely difficult to tabulate occupations in Japan, and to give complete returns such as those published by the British census or by the census of the United States.

Everybody works in Japan, including the children, whose tiny fingers paste match-boxes, put on labels, and help in sericulture, tea-picking, and various other ways. In the aggregate these minor industries bring in a steady, though in many cases a slight, revenue. Small as it is, however, it helps to swell the household purse, and aids in defraying the family expenses. Whilst Japan has made a good start in manufacturing operations, in factories and workshops, some of her leading industries are still conducted in the household, and in small shops and houses scattered throughout the agricultural districts, often far away from the large manufacturing centres.

According to the census of 1913 the population of Japan proper, excluding Corea, Formosa, and Sakhalien, was 52,911,800, or 387 per square mile, a density more than equal to that of Great Britain ; and the annual increase is 34'2 per thousand, 40 per cent, higher than that of her ally. It is no wonder that this ever-increasing population has sent out streams of emigrants to different parts of the world, especially to new countries which are sparsely inhabited, and where economic opportunities for newcomers are abundant. The figures for 1914 show that the Japanese population abroad is distributed as follows :


The countries which contain a Japanese population of over 10,000 are :


That Europe is no field for Japanese emigrants is shown by the above figures.

No revival of emigration after the war to places outside Asia is probable, excepting, perhaps, to some South American states, which welcome the Japanese for developing their resources, and with which no friction is considered possible.

The policy of the Japanese government after the war will be the same as that pursued before and during the war. As to the contention of Japan that the small number of her people already living within the jurisdiction of the United States should be accorded the same treatment and protection as that accorded to citizens of other nations, and that any legislation calculated to injure the prestige and honour of Japan ought to be avoided (now that the same aim in regard to emigration has been practically achieved by an international arrangement), the intelligent pubUc of the West are gradually realizing its justice as well as its wisdom. In these circumstances, it is hardly possible that the question will give rise to any serious international friction, though it may continue to oifer a congenial theme for the outcries of some demagogic labour leaders and poUticians of the cheaper sort.

The health and physique of the Japanese people has since the Restoration been improved by the introduction of European games and sports.

The rising generation has already begun to respond to its inspiration in the region of active sports and outdoor recreations. In feudal Japan comparatively few pursuits were followed for the sake of sport as such : they were mainly practised as a means to a definite end. They were chiefly confined to the samurai class, and were known as Bugei (military accomplishments), i. e. fencing, swimming, archery, riding, &c., being intended to prepare men for effective service in the internecine wars of the time.

Since the dawning, however, of the Meiji era, the outlook has somewhat altered. The Japanese, intensely practical though they are, are now growing more disposed to adopt sports and active recreations for their own sake, and not merely as a means to physical ends. Owing to the climatic difficulties in the way of making suitable grounds for cricket, football, and tennis, these games are comparatively little played by the Japanese - indeed cricket is entirely confined to ' treaty-port ' Englishmen. A few of the middle schools have tried football, and the Keio University of Tokyo has been able to put into the field a team more than once victorious over the Yokohama Club, under the Rugby Union rules. Lawn tennis is growing in popularity, even amongst girl students, and the Tokyo Club numbers some unusually adept exponents of the game. A recent champion has crossed the Pacific and met with success both in the Philippines and in the United States.

Boating has for years been popular among students of the Imperial University, and also the Waseda and several of the larger schools of Tokyo ; here, again, the representatives of the Yokohama Rowing Club have had to acknowledge defeat on the broad waters of the Sumida river.

But of all the strictly exotic sports that the West has brought to the youth of the East, it is baseball that has made the most successful bid for popular favour.

The first organized club was formed about the year 1886, by some of the officials of the Shimbashi railway station in Tokyo ; but it was not until ten years later that the victory of the First High School of Tokyo over the Yokohama (European) Club created an enthusiasm that speedily helped to popularize the game far and wide. Since then it has become the most universally favourite outdoor game among students of all classes, from primary schools to the various universities of the capital and elsewhere. The foremost of these have not only frequently outplayed their European antagonists in Japan itself, but they have also gained a fair measure of success outside. The Keio University some years ago journeyed to Hawaii and beat the American champions there, while on its return to Japan it also defeated the team sent over from the University of Washington itself. Later on, in 1909, the Wisconsin University * nine ' on a visit to Japan met a similar fate.

During recent years, skating and ski-ing have been introduced with a certain measure of success. For the former of these the lake of Suwa, in mid-Japan, has been the chief venue, while the latter has not only "been tried on the lower slopes of Fuji-yama, but regular ' meets ' have been held in the hiUs of Echigo for some winters past. Ski-ing seems to have become a recognized part of the military training of the troops of some of the northern provinces.

But perhaps the most remarkable developments in the world of ' sport ' are to be found in the appreciation of mountaineering, in the European sense, as distinct from those semi-reUgious, semi-social pilgrimages to famous sacred peaks which have had a vogue in Japan for a thousand years and more. The publication of Mountaineering in the Japanese Alps, in 1896, by the Rev. Walter Weston (a member of the English Alpine Club), helped greatly to stimulate the interest and enthusiasm of the more active younger members of the educated classes for mountainclimbingf as a recreation for its own sake. In growing numbers they began to travel in the great and unfamiliar mountain ranges of Hida-Shinshu and Shinshu-Koshu, to which one or two English explorers had been the first to direct serious attention. In 1906 the Japanese Alpine Club (Nihon Sangaku-kai) was formed, largely owing to the influence of the gifted writer, Usui Kojima, who became the first editor of the journal of the society. This publication, thrice yearly, is a remarkable testimony to the wide and varied interests represented by the seven to eight hundred members of the club, who visit the great mountain district known as the Japanese Alps for th purposes of scientific research, and for active exercise in the grandest and most romantic regions of the Empire. Although the parent club has been in existence for only a decade, it has found worthy followers in some of the provinces bordering on the ' Alps ' themselves, and in various of the larger boys' schools in Tokyo and elsewhere. In this sense mountaineering is a modern pursuit, and, as such, quite distinct from the old pilgrimages performed by the gyoja (ascetics) belonging to the Koju (associations), who sought in worship the mountain shrines of divinities to whom certain sacred summits were severally consecrated.

Japan is essentially a land of mountains, for not less than three-quarters of its area rises in rolling hills and in lofty peaks of over 10,000 feet in height. It is only reasonable, therefore, to expect that, with a people so deeply imbued with a love of nature and with a desire for fresh knqwledge, increasing numbers of young Japanese wiU find their highest pleasure in searching out the ' deep things of the everlasting hills'.

Of all the native forms of physical recreation practised by the Japanese, fencing (ken-jutsu) and wrestling (ju-jutsu, or judo, as its more modern form is termed) are the most popular.

During the feudal days swordsmanship was regarded as an essential part of the training of every samurai, and proficiency in the art was a surer means of promotion even than personal ability. The two swords of the samurai were his most precious possession, and a well-known saying tells us that ' the sword of the samurai is his soul '. Until the end of the feudal age, some fifty years ago, fencing was practised as both the favourite national sport and the chief physical training, and in a general way combined the main features of our old English single-stick and quarter-staff play. It was regarded also as a means of inspiring and strengthening the mental faculties of calmness, courage, and self-control. But it has largely lost its vogue, except amongst the police, prison-warders, and at the universities and some of the high schools and secondary schools. It is usually carried on in sheds called dojo, where a special costume is worn; the swords used are made of spht bamboo with handles about a foot long, so that both hands can be employed. The hits which count are on the head, the right hand and side, and a thrust at the throat. The intense alertness, the quick movements, and the sharp wild ejaculations of the contestants are an exceedingly interesting and un-Occidental combination to the European spectator.

When the wearing of the two swords was prohibited in 1 87 1 the necessity of other means of self-defence became more pressing, and the vogue of ju-jutsu increased. At first it was used for both offensive and defensive purposes, its main object being so to strike the opponent's body or limbs as entirely to put him out of action for the time being, but not necessarily to kill or injure him permanently. Special attention was given to falling in such a way as to avoid injury, this being usually done by striking the ground sharply with the forearm and lessening the force of the fall by the rebound so caused. Of late years, however, ju-jutsu has been considerably modified by Mr. Jlgoro Kano, a famous educationist and advocate of physical training, and principal of the Tokyo Higher Normal School, who has renamed it judo and transformed it into a method of physical culture. As such it is now widely practised in most of the schools and colleges of the Empire. At the same time there are a number of private institutions where the active form of ju-jutsu itself is practised on lines differing from the judo of Mr. Kano. Attempts, more or less successful, have been made to introduce the art of ju-jutsu into some of the English schools and universities, and also in connexion with the training of the London Metropolitan Police.

Swimming was another of the samurai accomplishments, and was practised according to the rules of varying ' schools '. On the whole, it is endurance rather than speed that is most cultivated, although, especially amongst military students, certain ' trick ' competitions are used for the encouragement of training soldiers in exhibitions of skill of a practical kind. For instance, the accomplished swimmer is expected to be able, while ' treading water ', to hold an open fan in one hand and write on it a poem with the other. Or again, he may have to load, aim, and fire his rifle at a fixed target, in a similar way. He will then dive, reload, and suddenly reappear in quite a different spot, to repeat the operation.

Archery is now little practised seriously, except in some of the larger schools, and as a pastime among some of the veteran survivors from the feudal days. Here and there small ranges are to be seen where blunt-headed arrows are fired at drum-faced targets, but the once favourite pursuit has long since had its day.

The popular form of wrestling known as sumo is more of an entertainment than a sport. It is practised by men specially chosen for size, weight, and strength, and their combined obesity and sensuality, both of appearance and of habits, differentiate them from all other Japanese. The men are formed into different * camps ', whose champions usually engage in a final struggle. The contests take place in a small ' arena ' of sand, sheltered by an awning and encircled by bales of rice-straw, and are presided over by an umpire in the ring, clad in traditional costume holding a fan and seeing fair play.

The wrestlers themselves wear no costume at all beyond an exiguous coloured apron, and have the old-fashioned ' top-knot ' of well-greased hair. The combats are governed by the strictest rules, and the new wrestling amphitheatre in Tokyo is filled with many thousands of excited spectators at the annual displays at the beginning of the year. The shop windows at that time are full of photographs of the public favourites, whose attractiveness, however, can scarcely be said to be of a kind that appeals to ordinary European tastes.