In lotus-land Japan - PDF book by Herbert George Ponting

in lotus-land Japan ( With illustrations )

in lotus-land Japan


It is with no little trepidation that I have ventured to enlist myself in the large army of those who have written about Japan, and I can only plead the following reasons as an excuse for having done so. When I first went to Japan, my main objective was to photograph the country to my heart's content — for my camera has always been, to me, one of the things which made life most worth living.

 During my travels, however, I took copious notes; and as the fortunes of a wanderer led me several times back again to this beautiful land, these notes became so voluminous that the suggestion of friends, resident in Japan, that I should embody my experiences in a book, written round some of my photographs, was an idea which presented no great difficulty in the way of achievement. Indeed, interesting experiences were so many, during my three years of travel in the country, that the most perplexing problem was what to omit, so as to keep the size of the book within reasonable limits.

 Descriptions of many incidents and places have therefore been ruthlessly expunged in this process of elimination, but in what has been retained will be found some account of the best of everything I have learned about Japan. The beaten tracks, including as they do the most famous points of interest, are naturally the best tracks; but in the hope of making the book as readable as possible, I have included a few experiences I had far from tourist haunts; and, to lend variety, have added some that befell me during the late war, together with accounts of the wonderful work of the present-day artist-craftsmen and of the old-time swordsmiths.

From the time we left San Francisco's fine harbour behind us, few had been the daylight hours when the heavens were not mirrored in the ocean. 

The sun sank each evening in a cloudless sky ahead of us, only to reappear next morning in a cloudless sky astern, and each successive day had been but a repetition of the lovely day preceding it. It was a record voyage for the weather. 

No one on board could remember the like. The end of it came at last, however, as it does to all good things; but to the final hour of the voyage the kindly fate that had befriended us never deserted us, and the last evening was even more beautiful than all the others had been, for the moon was full, the night as lovely as a night at sea can be, and the very air seemed laden with the spirit of the land of our dreams that would soon be a dream no more. I was up next morning long ere the first streaks of dawn had dimmed the brilliancy of the moonlight. 

We were due to anchor at Yokohama soon after daybreak, and, as I came on deck, soft, balmy breezes, borne of our rapid progress, whispered gently in my ears, and bore on their wings the scent of land. I went up into the bow and saw that as the sharp prow parted the glassy waters which mirrored the starry heavens, thin feathers of spray leapt high along with the chap. vessel's trim and tapering sides, and burned with a ghostly light which spread around the ship, so that she seemed to be moving in a sea of fire. 

Seldom have I seen the ocean so phosphorescent in any part of the world. We were steaming just off the entrance to Tokyo Bay, and now and then a junk, or some smaller fishing- boat, loomed suddenly out of the night, drifted like a phantom across the silvery path of the moonlight, and passed as suddenly again into the dusky shadows. 

As the day began to break, this craft increased in number and distinctness until a vast fleet of many hundreds of them could be seen, homeward-bound from the work of the night. 

The great sails of the junks hung listlessly in a hundred tiny festoons that threw soft shadows on the white, and the smaller boats, the sampans — with the half-nude figures of the fishermen swinging to and fro against the background of the moonlit water, as they worked the long sweeps, called yulos — formed a novel and delightful picture that filled me with anticipation of what was yet to come. Whilst my attention was absorbed with the fishing- boats the morning rapidly grew, and now the delicate outline of that loveliest of all mountains of the earth — that wondrous inspiration of Japanese art, Fuji-san — was softly painted on the western skies. The grey of dawn was shot with pink, and blue, and amber, and high in the iridescent azure, far above the night-mists clinging to the land, the virgin cone of Fuji hung from the vault of heaven.

 book details :
  • Author: Herbert George Ponting
  • Publication date: 1910
  • Company: London, Macmillan and co., limited

  • Download 16.7 MB

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