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Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, January 10, 1904, Image 24

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The Tearless Children of Japan
(Copyright, 1903, by Mary Qay Humphrey.)
Oil. Clod's mVi. stnn that rrvlnir."
Fl To hear Oils good m'sslonary Eng
I llsh In A. net of Jununese hnuitoii
and Japanese houses are no thin
that everything tho neighbors say
Is easily heard was startling. In four
months we had never heard any scolding
or seen a child punished.
This unusual event proved to be one of
those International households not uncom
mon In the east. It was tho Anglo-Saxon
half of the child that roared and tyrannized
over Its submlsrlve Japanese mother. Ills
English father had bought him a bright
blue ulster with brass buttons. In this ho
strutted up aid down Ncgisha Mura, boss
ing all the children of the quarter. A
plainer lnstmes of heredity and raclul traits
Is rarely seen.
No ono was more shocked at John Tashlra
an than O Tara, the llttlo niece of our
maid, O Yen, "The Honorable Miss Dollar."
Even when O Tara had tho toothache she
lulled through I er pain.
"Had boy," said O Tara. "Ills rudencss-to-Honorable-forelgn-lady-ls.
Evil-mat ter-to-respected-eurs-of-tho
is," with great dignity, and bow
ing her little head down to the floor.
Even Jupaiicso babies are popularly sup
posed never to cry. This conies pretty near
tho truth, for the land and all there Is In it
seems to bo theirs.
In any country whero Bhlntolsm or ances
tral worship prevails tho children are
bound to have a good time. A son is neces
sary to carry on the worship of his parents
and to keep the ancestral fires lit. If a man
has not a son ho adopts one or takes an
other wife. If a woman has not a son slio '
knows what to expect. Polygamy finds lis
excuse In religion. Japanese girls are by ho
means so highly valued, but, as can be
Been, they work into tho generul scheme.
Children being a religious necessity, their
place Is fixed. Supplementing this is the
natural Joy of parents In their own progeny
and the sense of possession.
Curiously enough, pampered as they are,
the children are never caressed. The Japa
nese; regard kissing as vulgar, animal and
unsanitary. Even foreign children would
willingly give up being kissed In return for
never being scolded or whipped.
When a Japanese child is born, every
body brings it gifts, Fish and eggs are the
proper presents, particularly eggs, on which
tho family probably subsists until satiety
ets In. On the third day it Is named, and
goes to the temple to be blessed by the
pi lost. Girls are generally named after
some flower or fruit, as "Urae," plum blos
som, or "Klku," chrysanthemum. Boys are
nicknamed, as "Kitaro," "glorious big one,"
r perhaps "Suburo," meaning No. 3, the
third boy.
A baby wears layers of those long easy
lips we know as klmonas, which cover its
fce and its hands. Consequently it has no
cause for crying when It is dressed. Even
the poorest baby has its daily hot bath.
Hot In Japan means lid degrees Fahrenheit,
a temperature that gives even a grown
person lively recollections. Its head Is
haved, with the exception of a small tuft,
until It Is 3 years old. One of the few re
pulsive sights In Japan Is the number of
ore headed children seen on the streets.
These sores ore not allowed to heal, the
theory being that In this manner all the
vil humors of the body are expelled.
When a bahy is a few weeks old. It Is
trapped on the back of ono of the younger
children and sent out Into the streets,
'hen our children are being cradled ant
ung to the Japanese baby Is beginning its
education. This seems to explain that ex
pertness of the Japanese t nation which
within fifty years has become a world
The children of the poor play In the
streets and the temple grounds, and every
third child has a tvby on its back. This .
makes no difference In the games. The
children play battledoor and shuttlecock,
toss their rice bags, run, jump and even
wulk on stilts with tho last born nodding
Its helpless head or perhaps fast asleep.
Its face turned upward and head lying back
on Its bearer's shoulders. As the baby
gets older It takes an Interest In all that
Is going on and daily adds to Its stock of
Children nre carried In this manner until
they are 3 years old, and have their do'ls
strapped on their backs. . Thus entertained
and with plenty of company a Japanese
child has little cause for complaint.
Indoors tho mother performs; nil her
household duties with the baby on her
back. Our manner of carrying a child In
tho arms seems very wasteful of time and
strength to a Japanese mother, who kieps
her arms free and cares for her buby at
the same time. Meanwhile the baby learns
to cling with its toes and fingers like a llttlo
animal. It unconsciously learns what Its
elders know, and the precocity of the Jap
anese children In taking caro of shops, In
selling and carrying on that exerci.se of
mental shrewdness . which farmers call a
"dicker" is the astonishment of every for
eigner. .
Every boy and girl In Japan has the
samo birthday, regardless of dates of birth.
These the wholo country unites in cele
brating. The girls' birthday Is called the "Feast
of Dolls" and takes place on Murch 1. On
that day all the dolls of the family fur
generations back are brought out and
ranged on a red covered shelf. Among
these are the emperor and empress. Little
lacquer tables are put before the dolls, und
for three days food Is served to them. A
tremendous amount of visiting goes on and
the streets are filled with gaily dressed
children going to seo one another's dolls
and sharing In candy and rice cakes. At
the close of the festival the dolls are care
fully packed away with new additions to
their company.
There is a common belief that If dolls
have enough companionship, In time they
will acquire souls. O Tara had a bare
polled doll, which she cared for tenderly.
Each day sho bathed its eyes in hot water.
"Wherefore, O Tara," I asked. "It has
eyes, but sees not."
"No, augustly honorable foreign lady.
But If O Tara loves enough, baby see."
The boys' birthday Is May 5, and Is called
tho "Feast of Flags." Sacred to the boy Is
tho carp, tho fish of greatest strength and
courage. It alone can leap wutcrfalls and
travel up stream. The country bristles
with flagpoles and from euch wave bril
liantly colored paper fish. These fish are
mado douhl?, and tho wind entering the
wide mouths swell them out until they
seem to bo swimming in the' air. Each polo
will have a half dozen fish of different
hues, and the color effect of this forest of
gay masts viewed from some friendly hill
Is one of those beautiful results that this
artistlo people know ao well how to pro
duce. The children enter Into almost ' every
form of Japanese life. When the mother
goes to the temple to pray she brings home
gifts for the children. Many of the temple
grounds are like a continual fair with toy
and candy booths and open-air entertain
ments. Japanese toys are Innumerable and cheap.
': . ..'
''TV' m jrT
-'.V ;1 : r-
,. ' ; j ( j '.' : ;. ' ' . 'V'- ".
One sen Is a half cent. Ten rln make 1
sen: many of these toys cost no more than
1 rln. Here is O Saru, the honorable mon
key. He Is of red cotton, concealing a bam
boo spring. Press tho string and he runs
up a pole. This costs 2 rln. A box of
soldiers, samurai In full armor, cosls 9 rln.
Ono of the simplest toys Is the "Tombo,"
or dragon fly. Imagine two pieces of wood
shaped llko a T. The upper bar Is daubed
with color. By twisting the lower piece
and suddenly letting go, the toy darts into
tho air, ' dipping, rising, hovering. In its
rapid motion looking like a dragon fly, and
making the same humming sound.
The children, too, are In tho temple
grounds imitating their parents' devotions
by shooting prayer arrows, "firing" rolled
up prayer papers, ns our children throw
spit balls, piling up votive stones, and send
ing paper prayer boats, touched off with a
match, to burn on the temple ponds.
. Hair Is to the Japanese almost what the
toga was tc the Romans. The gun trigger
stylo of hair dressing for men has gono
down before western clvTlzatlon. The boys
wear their hair short, and a shock of hair
Is to the little boy what breeches with
pockets are- to our children. All the girls
wear their hair in the same wuy until they
are married. Even little girls require a
hair dresser, for nobody but a professional
could master the lnttlcacies of the Japa
nese coiffure. It is to preserve this that
tho llttlo pillows of wood and paper are
used to sleep on. A greater sacrifice to
vanity can scarcely bo conceived. It Is
placed under the nape of the neck and
grows stonier each hour. The boys can
have cotton pillows.
The chiUren all dress like their riders.
There are no "baby clothes." At 7 a girl
gets her obi, or sash, which gives her a
hump-backed look, but Is to the Japanese
what. diamonds are to the westerner. Only
little girls and gelshns wear gay klmonas.
A bevy of little girls together In their
flower-like kimonas with long-winged
sleeves Is like a flock of bright-hued birds.
Dressed for any function their faces are
painted dazzling white and red. This is
not to deceive. Pnlnt is frankly a decora
tion. Another mark of girlhood Is the red petti
coat. It Is an oblong piece folded around
her and crossing in front. Now she begins
those plgcon-like steps of tho "Three Little
Maids from School."r This Is to keep her
skirts together and not show her ankles,
for In all Japan there is not a 'stocking.
At the race course I have seen the knees
of high-born young girls disclosed by the
rude wind. When tho girl marries she gets
a white petticoat and changes her btyle
of hair dressing. '
But child life is not all play. The streets
aro full of school children, with their bogs
of books. But Imagine tho boon.' All
Japan speaks softly. The children do not
scream and yell even In play, and never In
four months did I see a quarrel or fight.
Teacher Is held In such respect that until
recently the children In reciting turned
their backs, it being rude to stare him In
the face.
In the Orient the children study aloud.
This is to make sure they are studying. As
there Is no alphabet In Japan the children
havo to commit as a starter 3,000 Chinese
characters, a mental effort which makes
the foreigner understand the nimble, facile
minds of these people.
Tho education of the boys and girls take
different directions. That of the girl Is to
nial;o her the accomplished servant of the
man. If she Is ill, bhe must conceal it.
She must always be well and willing, have
a smile on her lips and her hand:) free to
serve. She is taught to sew and cook, to
make herself attractive by playing tho
samisen and koto, and to execute, what she
thinks, is singing. Shg must be skilled In
the involved paths of Japanese etiquette,
to go through the tea ceremony, the "O
Chun Tu," the foundation of all elegance,
nnd to nrrange flowers according to her
text books and rules a beautiful accom
plishment which mikes our bouquets seem
barbarous. She does not dance. Geishas
ore paid to do that.
Both boys and girls must write well.
H-.ndwrillr.g ranks as a virtue in Japan.
This they do with n brush In vertical lines
that read backward. The boys' studies are
more like those of our western world.
Chinese Is tluir Latin, nnd English our
French. American text books uro used.
They havo athletic contests, tugs of war
and grotesque races in which two boys are
tied by the legs. There Is nn ancient con
test known as "Taking the Castle." There
nre two bamboo towers covered with paper
over twelve feet high. These are besieged
by opposing parties with wooden balls. In
side are bo Is filled with burning fluid. The
castle that takes fire first wins the game
for the besiegers. In the end there Is a
glorious bonfire for both sides.
But the chief thing taught to every boy
Is loyalty and devotion to the emperor.
Ask any boy what is the dearest thing In
life and he answers: "To die for the em
peror." This is the secret of the bravery
of the Japanese soldiers. It was a Japa
nese mother who, when her only son was
brought home dead from the battlefield,
smiled and said, "Then he was able to be
of some service."
At the theater this loyalty la prominent
In most plays. A celebrated play Is "The
Troub'e of the House of Date." The lord
is a little child. His playmate Is another
child, his subject. A rival faction seeks to
poison him. A box of candies is sent as a
present. The child knows his duty and
calmly eats one, dying that the trick may
be exposed and his lord's life saved.
In the long winter nights the children
sit around tho brazier of coals, which is
the Japanese hearth, and listen to stories
of the chlldien's god, whose name Is jizu.
When the children die they go to Jlzu.
Jizu wears a klmona with long sleeves, and
when the goblins aro after them they run
and hide behind these sleeves. Here are
bits from a hymn to Jizu:
"Poor little soul, your life was brief In
deed." "So soon were you forced to make the
weary journey to the Maldo."

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