They did not get far from Odawara before it was necessary to leave the jinrikshas and take to the cangos. These were found waiting for them where the road ended and the footpath began, and the boys were delighted at the change from the one mode of conveyance to the other.
Traveling by Cango

Doctor Bronson did not seem to share their enthusiasm, as he had been in a cango before and did not care for additional experience. He said that cango traveling was very much like eating crow, a man might do it if he tried, but he was not very likely to "hanker after it."

It required some time for them to get properly stowed in their new conveyances, as they needed considerable instruction to know how to double their legs beneath them. And even when they knew how, it was not easy to make their limbs curl into the proper positions and feel at home. Frank thought it would be very nice if he could unscrew his legs and put them on the top of the cango, where he was expected to place his boots, and Fred declared that if he could not do that, the next best thing would be to have legs of India rubber.

The cango is a box of light bamboo, with curtains that can be kept up or down, according to one's pleasure. The seat is so small that you must curl up in a way very uncomfortable for an American, but not at all inconvenient for a Japanese. It has a cushion, on which the traveler sits, and the top is so low that it is impossible to maintain an erect position. It has been in use for hundreds of years in Japan, and is not a great remove from the palanquin of India, though less comfortable. The body of the machine is slung from a pole, and this pole is upheld by a couple of servants. The men move at a walk, and every few hundred feet they stop, rest the pole on their staffs, and shift from one shoulder to the other. This resting is a ticklish thing for the traveler, as the cango sways from side to side, and gives an intimation that it is liable to fall to the ground. It does fall sometimes, and the principal consolation in such an event is that it does not have far to go.
Japanese Norimon

A more aristocratic vehicle of this kind is the norimon. The norimon is larger than the cango, and is completely closed in at the sides, so that it may be taken as a faint imitation of our covered carriages. The princes of Japan used to travel in norimons, and they are still employed in some parts of the empire, though becoming less and less common every year. The norimon has four bearers, instead of two, and, consequently, there is much more dignity attached to its use. The rate of progress is about the same as with the cango, and after several hours in one of them a foreigner feels very much as if he were a sardine and had been packed away in a can. It was always considered a high honor to be the bearer of a princely personage, and when the great man came out in state, with his army of retainers to keep the road properly cleared, the procession was an imposing one. The style and decorations of the norimon were made to correspond with the rank of the owner, and his coat-of-arms was painted on the outside, just as one may see the coats-of-arms on private carriages in London or Paris. When a prince or other great man expected a distinguished visitor, he used to send his private norimon out a short distance on the road to meet him.

The boys tried all possible positions in the cangos, in the hope of finding some way that was comfortable. Frank finally settled down into what he pronounced the least uncomfortable mode of riding, and Fred soon followed his example. They had taken open cangos, so as to see as much of the country as possible and have the advantage of whatever air was in circulation, and but for the inconvenience to their lower limbs, they would have found it capital fun. Frank doubled himself so that his feet were as high as his head. He gave his hat into the care of the conductor, and replaced it with a cloth covering, so that he looked not much unlike a native. His bearers found him rather unwieldy, as he frequently moved about, and thus disturbed the equilibrium of the load. To ride properly in a cango or a norimon, one should not move a muscle from the time he enters until he leaves the vehicle. This may do for the phlegmatic Asian, but is torture for a foreigner, and especially for an American.
A Hot Bath in the Mountains

Doctor Bronson was a tall man, and could not fold himself with as much facility as could the suppler youths. He rode a mile or so and then got out and walked, and he continued thus to alternate as long as they were traveling in this way. He was emphatic in declaring that the way to ride in a cango and enjoy it thoroughly was to walk behind it, and let somebody else take the inside of the vehicle.

Their journey brought them to Hakone, which has long been a favorite summer resort of the Japanese, and of late years is much patronized by foreigners. Those who can afford the time go there from Yokohama, Tokyo, and other open ports of Japan, and during July and August there is quite a collection of English and Americans, and of other foreign nationalities. The missionaries, who have been worn down and broken in health by their exhaustive labors in the seaports during the winter, find relief and recuperation at Hakone as the summer comes on. There they gather new strength for their toils by breathing the pure air of the mountains and climbing the rugged paths, and they have abundant opportunities for doing good among the natives that reside there.
A Japanese Bath

Before reaching Hakone it was necessary to traverse a mountain pass, by ascending a very steep road to the summit and then descending another. In the wildest part of the mountains they came to a little village, which has a considerable fame for its hot springs. The boys had a fancy to bathe in these springs, and, as the servants needed a little rest after their toilsome walk, it was agreed to halt awhile. There were several of the springs, and the water was gathered in pools, which had a very inviting appearance and increased the desire of our friends to try them. They went into one of the small rooms provided for the purpose, removed their clothing, and then plunged in simultaneously. They came out instantly, and without any request to do so by the Doctor, who stood laughing at the edge of the pool. For their skins the water was almost scalding-hot, though it was far otherwise to the Japanese.

The Japanese are very fond of hot baths, and will bathe in water of a temperature so high that a foreigner cannot endure it except after long practice. The baths here in the mountains were just suited to the native taste, and Frank said they would be suited to his taste as well if they could have a few blocks of ice thrown into them.

Public and private baths are probably more numerous in Japan than in any other country. The qualities of most of the natural sources are well known, and thousands flock to them every year to be cured of real or imaginary maladies. The country contains a great number of these springs, and, since the arrival of foreigners, and a careful analysis of the waters, certain properties have been discovered that were not known before. In some cases the curative powers of the Japanese springs are remarkable, and it has been predicted that patients will one day come to Japan from distant lands to be healed.
The Lake of Hakone

The Lake of Hakone is a beautiful sheet of water, not unlike Lake Tahoe in California, an aquatic gem in a setting of rugged mountains. These are not lofty, like the mountains of the Golden State, so far as their elevation above the lake is concerned, but they rise directly from the water, and present nearly everywhere a bold frontage. The surface of the lake is said to be more than six thousand feet above the level of the sea, and the water is clear and cold. Our young friends tried a bath in the lake, and found it as inconveniently cold as the springs had been inconveniently warm. "Some people are never satisfied," said Fred, when Frank was complaining about the temperature of the water in the lake. "You wouldn't be contented with the springs because they boiled you, and now you say the lake freezes you. Perhaps we'll find something by-and-by that will come to the point."

The boys had observed that the farther they penetrated from Yokohama and Tokyo, the less did they find the people affected in their dress and manners by the presence of the foreigners. Particularly was this the case with the women. They had seen in the open ports a good many women with blackened teeth, and the farther they went inland, the greater did they find the proportion of the fair sex who had thus disfigured themselves. So at the first opportunity they asked the Doctor about the custom.

"I know," said Frank, "that it is the married women that blacken their teeth, but how does it happen that there are so many more married ones here than on the shores of Yeddo Bay?"

"You are wrong there," answered the Doctor. "There is probably as large a proportion of married women in the one region as in the other. The difference is that the custom is rapidly falling off."

"Is there any law about it?" Fred inquired.

"Not in the least," Doctor Bronson explained. "It is an old custom for married women to blacken their teeth, and formerly it was most rigidly observed, but of late years, since the foreigners came to Japan, it has not been adhered to. The Japanese see that a married woman can get along without having her teeth discolored, and as they are inclined to fall into the customs of Europe, the most progressive of them not only permit, but require, their wives to keep their teeth white."

"That is one point," said Frank, "in which I think the Japanese have gained by adopting the European custom. I don't think it improves their appearance to put on European clothes instead of their own, but when it comes to this habit of blackening the teeth, it is absolutely an improvement."

From this assertion there was no dissent. Then the question naturally arose, "How is the operation performed?"

Doctor Bronson explained that it was done by means of a black paint or varnish, peculiar to Japan. The paint was rubbed on the teeth with a rag or stiff brush, and made the gums very sore at first. It remained quite bright and distinct for the first few days, but in the course of a week it faded, and by the end of ten or twelve days a renewal was necessary. If left to itself, the coloring would disappear altogether within a month from the time of its application.

Frank wished to know if the women were desirous of having the custom abolished, but on this point it was not easy for him to obtain precise information. The Doctor thought it was a matter of individual rather than of general preference, and that the views of the women were largely influenced by those of their husbands. "The Japanese wives," said he, "are like the wives of most other countries, and generally wish to do according to the tastes and desires of their husbands. As you grow older you will find that the women of all lands endeavor to suit their modes of dressing and adornment to the wishes of the men with whom they come mostly in contact. Of course, there are individual exceptions, but they do not weaken the force of the general rule. In America as in England, in China as in Japan, in India as in Peru, it is the fancy of the men that governs the dress and personal decoration of the other half of the race. As long as it was the fashion to blacken the teeth in this country, the women did it without a murmur, but as soon as the men showed a willingness for them to discontinue the practice, and especially when that willingness became a desire, they began to discontinue it. Twenty years from this time, I imagine, the women with blackened teeth will be less numerous than those at present with white ones.

"The abandonment of the custom began in the open ports, and is spreading through the country. It will spread in exactly the same ratio as Japan adopts other customs and ways of the rest of the world, and as fast as she takes on our Western civilization, just so fast will she drop such of her forms as are antagonistic to it."
The Antics of the Horses

The party rested a portion of a day at Hakone, and then went on their way. Traveling by cango had become so wearisome that they engaged a horse-train for a part of the way, and had themselves and their baggage carried on the backs of Japanese steeds. They found this an improvement on the old plan, though the horses were rather unrulier than the cango servants, and frequently made a serious disturbance. Occasionally, when the train was ready to start, the beasts would indulge in a general kicking-match all around, to the great detriment of their burdens, whether animate or otherwise. The best and gentlest horses had been selected for riding, and consequently the greatest amount of circus performances was with the baggage animals. The grooms had their hands full keeping the beasts under subjection, and not infrequently they came out of the contest with gashes and other blemishes on their variegated skins. But they showed great courage in contending with the vicious brutes, and it is said of a Japanese betto that he will fearlessly attack the most ill-tempered horse in the country, and not be satisfied until he has conquered him.

There are several populous towns between Hakone and the base of Mount Fuji. Among them may be mentioned Missimi, Noomads, and Harra, none of them containing any features of special importance after the other places our friends had seen. Consequently, our party did not halt there any longer than was necessary for the ordinary demands of the journey, but pushed on to the foot of the Holy Peak. As they approached it they met many pilgrims returning from the ascent, and their general appearance of fatigue did not hold out a cheering prospect to the excursionists. But they had come with the determination to make the journey to the summit of the mountain, and were not to be frightened at trifles. They were full of enthusiasm, for the great mountain showed more distinctly every hour as they approached it, and its enormous and symmetrical cone was pushed far up into the sky, and literally pierced the clouds. At times the clouds blew away. The sunlight streamed full upon the lofty mass of ever-during stone, and seemed to warm it into a tropical heat. But the snow lying unmelted in the ravines dispelled the illusion, and they knew that they must encounter chilling winds, and perhaps biting frosts, as they ascended to the higher altitudes.

There lay the great Mount Fuji, the holy mountain of Japan, which they had come so many thousand miles to see. In the afternoon the clouds rolled at its base, but the cone, barren as a hill in the great desert, was uncovered, and all the huge furrows of its sloping sides were distinctly to be seen. Close at hand were forests of the beautiful cedar of Japan, fields of waving corn, and other products of agriculture. Not far off were the waters of the bay that sweeps in from the ocean to near the base of the famous landmark for the mariners who approach this part of the coast. Now and then the wind brought to their ears the roar of the breakers, as they crashed upon the rocks, or rolled along the open stretches of sandy beach.
A Near View of Mount Fuji

Hitherto they had been favored by the weather, but now a rain came on that threatened to detain them for an indefinite period. It blew in sharp gusts that sometimes seemed ready to lift the roof from the house where they were lodged. The conductor explained that these storms were frequent at the base of the mountain, and were supposed by the ignorant and superstitions inhabitants of the region to be the exhibition of the displeasure of the deities of Mount Fuji in consequence of something that had been done by those who professed to worship them. "When the gods are angry," said he, "we have storms, and when they are in good-humor we have fair weather. If it is very fine, we know they are happy, and when the clouds begin to gather, we know something is wrong, and it depends upon the amount of sacrifices and prayers that we offer whether the clouds clear away without a storm or not."

Near the foot of the mountain there are several monasteries, where the pilgrims are lodged and cared for when making their religious visits to the God of Mount Fuji. Some of these are of considerable importance, and are far from uncomfortable as places of residence. Our party spent the night at one of these monastic settlements, which was called Muriyama, and was the last inhabited spot on the road. And as they were considerably fatigued by the ride, and a day more or less in their journey would not make any material difference, they wisely concluded to halt until the second morning, so as to have all their forces fully restored. Frank said, "This day doesn't count, as we are to do nothing but rest, and if we want to rest, we must not see anything." So they did not try to see anything, but the Doctor was careful to make sure that their conductor made all the necessary preparations for the ascent.

Early on the second morning after their arrival, they started for the final effort. They rode their horses as far as the way was practicable, and then proceeded on foot. Their baggage was mostly left in charge of the grooms to await their return, and such provisions and articles as they needed were carried by "yamabooshees," or "men of the mountain," whose special business it is to accompany travelers to the summit, and to aid them where the way is bad, or in case they become weary. If a person chooses, he may be carried all the way to the top of the mountain and back again, but such an arrangement was not to the taste of our robust adventurers. They were determined to walk, and walk they did, in spite of the entreaties of the servants who wanted to earn something by transporting them. In addition to the yamabooshees, they had an escort of two "yoboos," or priests, from one of the temples. These men were not expected to carry burdens, but simply to serve as guides, as they were thoroughly familiar with the road and knew all its peculiarities.

The first part of their way was through a forest, but, as they ascended, the trees became smaller and fewer, and their character changed. At the base there were pines and oaks, but they gradually made way for beeches and birches, the latter being the last because the hardiest. From the forest they emerged upon the region of barren rock and earth and the fragments left by the eruptions of the volcano. The last eruption took place in 1707, and there have been few signs of any intention of returning activity since that date. But all around there are abundant traces of what the mountain was when it poured out its floods of lava and covered large areas with desolation. In some places the heaps of scoriae appear as though the eruption, whence they came, had been but a week ago, as they are above the line of vegetation, and their character is such that they undergo hardly any change from the elements from one century to another.

This part of Japan, and, in fact, the whole of Japan, has a good deal of volcanic fire pent up beneath it. Earthquakes are of frequent occurrence, and sometimes they are very destructive. Whole towns have been destroyed by them, and as for the little ones that do no material damage, but simply give things a general shaking-up, they are so frequent as to be hardly noticeable. That there is an underground relation between the disturbances in different parts of the country is evident, and the tradition is that at the time of the last eruption of Mount Fuji the ground rose considerably in the vicinity of the mountain, while there was a corresponding depression of the earth near Kyoto, on the other side of the island. Occasionally there are slight rumblings in the interior of Mount Fuji, but none of them are serious enough to excite any alarm.
The Ascent of Mount Fuji

From the place where our friends left their horses to the summit the distance is said to be not far from twenty miles, but it is not exactly the equivalent of twenty miles on a level turnpike or a paved street. Frank said it reminded him of a very muddy road somewhere in California, which a traveler described as nine miles long, ten feet wide, and three feet deep, and he thought a fair description of the way up the mountain would include the height and roughness as well as the length.

The path wound among the rocks and scoriae, and through the beds of lava. Altogether they found the ascent a most trying one, and sometimes half wished that they had left the visit to Mount Fuji out of their calculations when they were planning how to use their time in Japan. But it was too late to turn back now, and they kept on and on, encouraging each other with cheering words, stopping frequently to take breath and to look at the wonderful panorama that was unfolded to their gaze. The air grew light and lighter as they went on, and by-and-by the periods when they halted, panting and half suffocated, became as long as those devoted to climbing. They experienced the same difficulty that all travelers encounter at high elevations, and Fred remembered what he had read of Humboldt's ascent of the high peaks of the Andes, where the lungs seemed ready to burst and the blood spurted from the faces of himself and his companions in consequence of the rarity of the atmosphere.

About every two miles along the way they found little huts or caves, partly dug in the mass of volcanic rubbish, and partly built up, with roofs to protect the interior from the rain. These were intended as refuges for the pilgrims for passing the night or resting during storms, and had no doubt been of great service to those who preceded them. At one of these they halted for luncheon, which they took from the pack of one of their bearers, and later on they halted at another to pass the night. It is considered too great a journey to be made in a single day, except by persons of unusual vigor and long accustomed to mountain-climbing. The customary plan is to pass a night on the mountain when little more than half way up, and then to finish the ascent, and make the whole of the descent on the second day.

It was cold that night in the upper air, and there was a strong wind blowing that chilled our young friends to the bone. The sleeping accommodations were not of the best, as there were no beds, and they had nothing but the rugs and shawls they had brought along from the foot of the mountain. Fred asked if there was any danger of their being disturbed by tigers or snakes, and was speedily reassured by Frank, who thought that any well-educated beast or serpent would never undertake a pilgrimage to the top of Mount Fuji, and if one should have strayed as far as their resting place, he would be too much played out to attend to any business. But though large game did not abound, there was plenty of a smaller kind, as they found before they had been ten minutes in the huts. Previous visitors had left a large and well-selected assortment of fleas, for which they had no further use, and their activity indicated that they had been for some time without food. They made things lively for the strangers, and what with chilling winds, hard beds, cramped quarters, and the voracity of the permanent inhabitants of the place, there was little sleep in that hut during the time of their stay.

They were up before daylight, and, while the coffee was boiling, the boys watched the approach of morning. They looked far out over the waters of the Pacific, to where a thin line of light was curving around the rim of the horizon. At first it was so faint that it took a sharp eye to discover it, but as they watched and as the day advanced it grew more and more distinct, until it rounded out like a segment of the great circle engirdling the globe. The gleam of light became a glow that seemed to warm the waters of the shimmering ocean and flash a message of friendship from their home in another land. The heavens became purple, then scarlet, then golden, and gradually changed to the whiteness of silver. Far beneath them floated the fleecy clouds, and far beneath these were the hills of Hakone and the surrounding plain. Land and sea were spread as in a picture, and the world seemed to be lying at their feet. The boys stood spellbound and silent as they watched the opening day from the heights of Mount Fuji, and finally exclaimed in a breath that they were doubly paid for all the fatigue they had passed through in their journey thus far.

The light breakfast was taken, and the adventurers moved on. At each step the way grew more and more difficult. Every mile was steeper than its predecessor, and in many instances it was rougher. The rarefaction of the air increased, and rendered the work of breathing more and more severe. The travelers panted like frightened deer, and their lungs seemed to gain little relief from the rest that the Doctor and his young friends were compelled to take at frequent intervals. The last of the huts of refuge was passed, and it seemed only a short distance to the summit. But it required more than an hour's effort to accomplish this final stage. The boys refused all offers of assistance, and struggled manfully on, but Doctor Branson was less confident of his powers, and was glad of the aid of the strong-limbed and strong-handed yamabooshees. All were glad enough to stand on the summit and gaze into the deep gulf of the crater, while their brows were cooled by the clear breezes from the Pacific. They were at the top of Mount Fuji, 14,000 feet above the level of the ocean that lay so far below them, eighty miles from their starting-point at Yokohama, and their vision swept an area of the surface of the earth nearly two hundred miles in diameter. East and south lay the broad ocean. West and north was the wondrous land of Japan, a carpet of billowy green, roughened here and there with wooded hills and small mountains, indented with bays and with silver threads of rivers meandering through it. It was a picture of marvelous beauty which no pen can describe.

They remained an hour or more on the mountain, and then began the descent. It was far easier than the upward journey, but was by no means a pleasurable affair. The boys slipped and fell several times, but, luckily, received no severe hurts, and in little more than three hours from the top they were at the spot where the horses were waiting for them. Altogether, they had been through about twelve hours of the hardest climbing they had ever known in their lives. Frank said he didn't want to climb any more mountains for at least a year, and Fred quite agreed with him. As they descended from their saddles at Muriyama, they were stiff and sore, and could hardly stand. They threw their arms around each other, and Frank said:

"The proudest day of my life, I've been to the top of Mount Fuji."

"And it's my proudest day, too," Fred responded. "For I've been there with you."

As they rested that evening, Frank thought of some lines that he had seen somewhere, which were appropriate to the journey they had made, and he wound up the day's experiences by repeating them. They were as follows:

"As we climb from the vale to the high mountain's peak,

We leave the green fields far below;

We go on through the forest, beyond it we seek

The line of perpetual snow.

Cold and thin grows the air, the light dazzles our eyes,

We struggle through storm-cloud and sleet;

With courage undaunted we mount toward the skies,

Till the world spreads out at our feet.

"We are journeying now up the mountain of life,

The green fields of youth we have passed;

We've toiled through the forest with unceasing strife,

And gained the bright snow-line at last.

We are whitened by frost, we are chilled by the breeze—

With weariness hardly can move;

But, faithful to duty, in our work we'll ne'er cease

Till we look on the world from above."


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

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


Cango: A small box of light bamboo, designed to be carried by two people to transport one, with curtains that can be kept up or down.
Aristocratic: Of, pertaining to, or favoring, the nobility, or the hereditary ruling class.
Norimon: A Japanese covered platform mounted on two shafts, designed to be carried by two or more people to transport one or more passengers.
Phlegmatic: Calm or not easily excited to action or passion.
Hot Spring: A natural spring producing water whose temperature is greater than about 20°C (68°F).
Earthquake: A shaking of the ground, caused by volcanic activity or movement around geologic faults.
Scoria: Rough masses of rock formed by solidified lava, and which can be found around a volcano's crater.
Lava: The molten rock ejected by a volcano from its crater or fissured sides.
Ascent: The act of moving upward or climbing.


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 settings in modern times:

  • The city of Hakone, Japan.
  • Mount Fuji in Japan.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

  • Find the country of Japan on the map of the world.
  • Find Mount Fuji (small red triangle west of Yokohama) on the map of Japan.

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

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