While the Doctor and his companions were at table in the restaurant at Uyeno, they were surprised by the presence of an old acquaintance, Mr. A., or "The Mystery," who had been their fellow passenger from San Francisco, suddenly entered the room, accompanied by two Japanese officials, with whom he was evidently on very friendly terms. They were talking in English, and the two natives seemed to be quite fluent in it, but they evidently preferred to say little in the presence of the strangers. Mr. A. was equally disinclined to talk, or even to make himself known, as he simply nodded to Doctor Bronson and the boys, and then sat down in a distant corner. When the waiter came, he said something to him in a low tone, and in a few minutes the proprietor appeared, and led the way to a private room, where the American and his Japanese friends would be entirely by themselves.
A High-Priest

As Frank expressed it, "something was up," but what that something was they did not see any prospect of ascertaining immediately. After a few moments devoted to wondering what could be the meaning of the movements of the mysterious stranger, they dropped the subject and resumed their conversation about Japan.

Fred had some questions of a religious character to propound to the Doctor. They had grown out of his observations during their visits to the temples.

"I noticed in some of the temples," said Fred, "that there were statues of Buddha and also other statues, but in other temples there were no statues of Buddha or anyone else. What is the meaning of this?"

"It is because the temples belong to different forms of religion," the Doctor answered. "Those where you saw the statues of Buddha are Buddhist in their faith and form of worship, while the rest are of another kind which is called Shinto."

"And what is the difference between Buddhism and Shintoism?" Frank inquired.

"The difference," Doctor Bronson explained, "is about the same as that between the Roman Catholic faith and that of the Protestants. As I understand it, but I confess that I am not quite clear on the subject, Shintoism is the result of a reformation of the Buddhist religion, just as our Protestant belief is a reformation of Catholicism.

"Now, if you want to study Buddhism," he continued, "I must refer you to a work on the religions of the world, or to an encyclopedia. The religions of the East are very difficult to comprehend, and I have known men who had lived twenty years in China or India, and endeavored to study the forms and principles of the religions of those countries, who confessed their inability to understand them. For my own part, I must admit that when I have listened to explanations by Japanese, or other people of the East, of their religious faith, I have heard a great deal that I could not comprehend. I concede their sincerity, and when they say there is a great deal in our forms of worship that they do not understand, I believe they are telling the truth. Our ways of thought are not their ways, and what is clear to one is not at all so to another.
A Japanese Temple

"I have already told you of the overthrow of the Shogun, or Tycoon, and the return of the Mikado to power as the ruler of all the country. The Shogun and his family were adherents of Buddhism, while the Mikado's followers were largely of the Shinto faith. When the Mikado's power was restored, there was a general demand on the part of the Shintoists that the Buddhist temples should be destroyed and the religion effaced. A good number of temples were demolished, and the government took away much of the revenue of those that remained. The temples are rapidly going to decay, as there is no money to expend on them for repairs, and it is quite possible that the beginning of the next century may see them overthrown. Some of them are magnificent specimens of architecture, and it is a great pity that they should thus go to ruin. Adherents of the old religion declare that the government had at one time determined to issue an order for the demolition of every Buddhist temple in the country, and only refrained from so doing through fear that it would lead to a revolution. The Shiba temple in Tokyo, one of the finest in Japan, was burned under circumstances that led many persons to accuse the government of having had a hand in the conflagration, and I know there are foreigners in Tokyo and Yokohama who openly denounce the authorities for the occurrence.

"As you have observed, the Buddhist temples contain the statue of Buddha, while the Shinto temples have nothing of the sort. For all practical purposes, you may compare a Buddhist temple to a Catholic church, with its statues and pictures of the saints, and a Shinto temple to a Protestant church, with its bare walls, and its altar with no ornament of consequence. The Buddhists, like the Catholics, burn a great deal of incense in front of their altars and before their statues, but the Shintoists do not regard the burning of incense as at all necessary to salvation. Both religions have an excellent code of morals, and if all the adherents of either should do as they are told by their sacred teachers, there would not be much wickedness in the country. As for that matter, there is enough of moral precept in nearly every religion in the world to live by, but the trouble is that the whole world will not live as it should. Buddhism is more than five hundred years older than Christianity. The old forms of Shintoism existed before Buddhism was brought to Japan, but the modern is so much changed from the old that it is virtually, as I told you, a reformation of Buddhism. At all events, that was the form which it assumed at the time the Shogun's government was overthrown.
A Wayside Shrine

"You have only to see the many shrines and temples in all parts of the country to know how thoroughly religious the whole population is, especially when you observe the crowds of devout worshippers that go to the temples daily. Every village, however small and poor, has its temple, and wherever you go, you see little shrines by the roadside with steps leading up to them. They are invariably in the most picturesque spots, and always in a situation that has a view as commanding as possible. You saw them near the railway as we came here from Yokohama, and you can hardly go a mile on a Japanese road without seeing one of them. The Japanese have remembered their love for the picturesque in arranging their temples and shrines, and thus have made them attractive to the great mass of the people."

The discussion came to an end, and the party prepared to move on. They were uncertain where to go, and, after a little time spent in debate, the Doctor suggested that they might as well go once more to the Nihon Bashi, or Central Bridge, and enjoy an afternoon view of the river. Off they started, and in due time were at the famous bridge, and in the midst of the active life that goes on in its vicinity.

The view up and down the river was an animated one. Many boats were on the water, some of them lying at anchor, or tied up to the bank. While others were slowly threading the stream in one way and another. The banks of the river were lined with bright restaurants and other places of public resort, and from some of them came the sounds of native music, indicating that the patrons were enjoying themselves. The great mountain of Japan was in full view, and was a more welcome sight than the crowds of beggars that lined the bridge and showed altogether too much attention to the strangers. The bridge itself is not the magnificent structure that one might expect to find when he remembers its national importance. It is a rickety affair, built of wood, and showing signs of great antiquity, and its back rises as though somebody had attempted to lift it up by pressing his shoulders beneath and had nearly succeeded in his effort.

Near the southern end of the bridge the boys observed something like a great signboard with a railing around it, and a roof above to keep the rain from injuring the placards which were painted beneath. The latter were in Japanese, and, of course, neither Frank nor Fred could make out their meaning. So they asked the Doctor what the structure was for and why it was in such a conspicuous place.
The Great Kosatsu, Near the Nihon Bashi

"That," answered the Doctor, "is the great kosatsu."

Frank said he was glad to know it, and he would be gladder when he knew what the kosatsu was.

"The kosatsu," continued Doctor Bronson, "is the signboard where the official notices of the government are posted. You find these boards in all the cities, towns, and villages of Japan. There may be several in a city, but there is always one which has a higher character than the rest, and is known as the great kosatsu. The one you are now looking at is the most celebrated in the empire, as it stands near the Nihon Bashi, whence all roads are measured, as I have already explained to you."

"Please, Doctor," said Frank, "what is the nature of the notices they put on the signboard?"

"Any public notice or law, any new order of the government, a regulation of the police, appointments of officials. In fact, anything that would be published as an official announcement in other countries. There was formerly an edict against Christians which was published all over the empire, and was on all the kosatsus. The edict appeared on the kosatsu of the Nihon Bashi down to the overthrow of the Shogun's government, in 1868, when it was removed."

"And what was the edict?"

"It forbade Christianity in these words: 'The evil sect called Christians is strictly prohibited. Suspicious persons should be reported to the proper officers, and rewards will be given.' Directly under this edict was another, which said, 'Human beings must carefully practice the principles of the five social relations: Charity must be shown to widowers, widows, orphans, the childless, and sick. There must be no such crimes as murder, arson, or robbery.' Both these orders were dated in the month of April, 1868, and consequently are not matters of antiquity. The original edict against Christians was issued two hundred years ago, and was never revoked. St. Francis Xavier and his zealous comrades had introduced the religion of Europe into Japan, and their success was so great that the government became alarmed for its safety. They found proofs that the new religionists intended to subjugate the country and place it under the dominion of Spain, and in the latter part of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century there was an active persecution of the Christians. Many were expelled from the country, many more were executed, and the cause of Christianity received a blow from which it did not recover until our day. Now the missionaries are at liberty to preach the Gospel, and may make as many converts as they please."

As they walked away from the kosatsu they saw a group engaged in the childish amusement of blowing soap bubbles. There were three persons in the group, a man and two boys. While the man blew the bubbles, the boys danced around him and endeavored to catch the shining globes. Fred and Frank were much interested in the spectacle, and had it not been for their sense of dignity, and the manifest impropriety of interfering, they would have joined in the sport. The players were modestly clad and evidently not wealthy, but they were as happy as though they had been princes. In fact, it is very doubtful if princes could have had a quarter as much enjoyment from the chase of soap bubbles.

Evening was approaching, and the party concluded to defer their sightseeing until tomorrow. They returned to the railway station, and were just in time to catch the last train of the day for Yokohama. There was a hotel at Tokyo on the European system, and if they had missed the train, they would have patronized this establishment. The Doctor had spent a week there, and spoke favorably of the Sei-yo-ken, as the hotel is called. It is kept by a Japanese, and all the servants are natives, and they manage to meet very fairly the wants of the strangers that go there. It was some time after the opening of Tokyo to foreigners before there was any hotel there, and a visitor was put to great inconvenience. He was compelled to accept the hospitality of his country's representative. As he generally had no personal claims to such hospitality, he was virtually an intruder, and if at all sensitive about forcing himself where he had no business to go, his position could not be otherwise than embarrassing. The American ministers in the early days were often obliged to keep free boarding houses, and even at the present time they are not entirely exempt from intrusions. Our diplomatic and consular representatives abroad are the victims of a vast amount of polite fraud, and some very impolite frauds in addition. It is a sad thing to say, but nevertheless true, that a disagreeably large proportion of traveling Americans in distant lands make pecuniary raids on the purses of our representatives in the shape of loans, which they never repay, and probably never intend to. Others manage to sponge their living by quartering at the consular or diplomatic residence, and making themselves as much at home as though they owned everything. There are many consuls in Europe and Asia who dread the entrance of a strange countryman into their offices, through the expectation, born of bitter experience, that the introduction is to be followed by an appeal for a loan, which is in reality a gift, and can be ill afforded by the poorly paid representative.
A Father and His Children

The next day the party returned to Tokyo, but, unfortunately for their plans, a heavy rain set in and kept them indoors. Japanese life and manners are so much connected with the open air that a rainy day does not leave much opportunity for a sightseer among the people. Finding the rain was likely to last an indefinite period, they returned to the hotel at Yokohama. The boys turned their attention to letter writing, while the Doctor busied himself with preparations for an excursion to Hakone, a summer resort of foreigners in Japan, and possibly an ascent of Mount Fuji. The boys greatly wished to climb the famous mountain, and as the Doctor had never made the journey, he was quite desirous of undertaking it, though, perhaps, he was less keen than his young companions, as he knew it could only be accomplished with a great deal of fatigue.

The letters were devoted to descriptions of what the party had seen in their visit to Tokyo, and they had a goodly number of comments to make on the manners and customs of the Japanese. Frank declared that he had never seen a politer people than the Japanese, and then he added that he had never seen any other people outside of his own country, and therefore his judgment might not be worth much. Fred had been greatly impressed with his discovery that the babies of Japan do not cry, and he suggested that the American babies would do well to follow the example of the Japanese children. Then, too, he was much pleased with the respect the children showed for their parents, and he thought the parents were very fond of their children, if he were to judge by the great number of games that were provided for the amusement of the little folks. He described what he had seen in the temple at Asakusa, and in other parts of Tokyo, and enclosed a picture of a Japanese father seated with his children, the one in his arms, and the other clinging to his knee, and forming an interesting scene.

Frank had made a discovery about the cats of Japan, and carefully recorded it in his letter as follows:

"There are the funniest cats in this country that you ever saw. They have the shortest kind of tails, and a good many of them haven't any tails at all any more than a rabbit. You know we expect every kitten in America to play with her tail, and what can she do when she has no tail to play with? I think that must be the reason why the Japanese cats are so solemn, and why they won't play as our cats do. I have tried to find out how it all happens, but nobody can tell. Doctor Bronson says the kittens are born without tails, and that is all he knows about it. I think they must be a different kind of cat from ours, but, apart from the absence of tails, they don't look any way dissimilar. Somebody says that an American once took one of these tailless cats to San Francisco as a curiosity, and that it would never make friends with any long-tailed cat. It would spit and scratch, and try to bite off the other cat's tail, but one day, when they put it with a cat whose tail had been cut off by a bad boy, it was friendly at once."

Fred wanted ever so much to send home a goldfish with a very wide and beautiful tail. The fish didn't seem to be much unlike a common goldfish, except in the tail, which was triple, and looked like a piece of lace. As it swam around in the water, especially when the sun was shining on the globe, its tail seemed to have nearly as many colors as the rainbow, and both the boys were of opinion that no more beautiful fish was ever seen. But the proposal to send it to America was rather dampened by the statement of the Doctor that the experiment had been tried several times, and only succeeded in a very few instances. Almost all the fish died on the voyage over the Pacific, and even when they lived through that part of the trip, the overland journey from San Francisco to the Atlantic coast generally proved too much for them. The Japanese name for this fish is kingyo, and a pair of them may be bought for ten cents. It is said that a thousand dollars were offered for the first one that reached New York alive, which is a large advance on the price in Yokohama.
Caught in the Rain

The Japanese dogs were also objects of interest to our young friends, though less so than the cats and the goldfish. They have several varieties of dogs in Japan, some of them being quite without hair, while others have very thick coats. The latter are the most highly prized, and the shorter their noses, the more valuable they are considered. Fred found a dog, about the size of a King Charles spaniel, that had a nose only half an inch long. He was boasting of his discovery, when Frank pointed out one that had less than a third of an inch. Then the two kept on the hunt for the latest improvement in dogs, as Frank expressed it, and they finally found one that had no nose at all. The nostrils were set directly in the end of the little fellow's head, and his under-jaw was so short that the operations of barking and eating were not very easy to perform. In spite of the difficulty of barking, he made a great deal of noise when the boys attempted to examine him, and he gave Frank to understand in the most practical way that a noseless dog can bite. As they walked away from the shop where they found him, he kept up a continual snarling, which led to the remark by Fred that a noseless dog was very far from noiseless.

As they had been kept in by the rain, Frank thought he could not do better than send to his sister a Japanese picture of a party caught in a rain storm. He explained that the rain in Japan was quite as wet as in any other country, and that umbrellas were just as necessary as at home. He added that the Japanese umbrellas were made of paper, and kept the rain off very well, but they did not last a long time. You could buy one for half a dollar, and a very pretty one it was, and it spread out farther than the foreign umbrella did. The sticks were of bamboo, and they were covered with several thicknesses of oiled paper carefully dried in the sun. They were very much used, since nearly everybody carried an umbrella, in fair weather as well as in foul. If the umbrella was not needed against the rain, it was useful to keep off the heat of the sun, which was very severe in the middle of the day.

The letters were ready in season for the mail for America, and in due time they reached their destination and carried pleasure to several hearts. It was evident that the boys were enjoying themselves, and at the same time learning much about the strange country they had gone to see.


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read and/or listen to the chapter.
  • Review the vocabulary terms.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


Shinto: Formerly the state religion of Japan, a religion involving the worship of ancestors and nature spirits.
Kosatsu: The signboard where the official notices of the government are posted.
Sightseeing: The activity of going out looking at things.
Mount Fuji: The highest mountain in Japan.


Activity 1: Narrate the Chapter

  • Narrate the events aloud in your own words.

Activity 2: Study the Chapter Pictures

  • Study the chapter pictures and describe how each relates to the story.

Activity 3: Observe the Modern Equivalent

  • Examine the chapter setting in modern times: The city of Tokyo, Japan.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

  • Find the country of Japan on the map of the world.
  • Find the Japanese capital city of Tokyo.

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

  • Repeat the mapwork from Activity 4 on a three-dimensional globe.