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Japanese Inn
by Oliver Statler


p.36 The news was received in the village streets with general indifference. The people's concern was how to meet their taxes, not who pocketed them at the top.

p.37 Despite Hideyoshi's promise to return seikenji's bell, the priests themselves had to go and fetch it back. Again they organized a work party, and again Mochizuki released his useful gardener to help. The bell was floated back across Suruga Bay, hurled up the face of the hill, and raised into its tower. Its only scar from wartime service is that from being dragged overland on the other end of its journey, part of its inscription is worn away, but the year of its casting, 1314, by the Western calendar, is legible. Today it is still struck eighteen times at dawn and dusk, and at midnight on New Year's Eve one hundred and eight times, for that is the number of the sins of man.

p.52 Ieyasu disliked intensely to have other people go after game in the grounds where he hawked, and he was inclined to be huffy when they encountered anyone there without good reason. Once they came across an oil-seller who compounded his crime by being insolent, so Ieyasu handed his sword to a retainer and told him to cut the fellow down. It was done, but the man went on walking a few paces before falling divided in two. This, of course, was a great testimonial to the sword, which they promptly christened "Oil-seller."

p.105 In the inn's entry, Ito and his companion each thrust his sword into his stash. They were commoners, but even a commoner was permitted to wear a sword when on a journey. A traveler had no choice but to carry all the money required for his trip: this made him a tempting target, and no one denied him the right to be armed against the perils of the road.

p.148 Basho was a wanderer. he was one of those poet-priests whose urge to see the full moon here, the sea and pines there, or the mountain crags at another celebrated place, kept them moving all over the face of their land, leaving poems and prose sketches which would in tern impel later generations to the same restless search for beauty in nature.
     One of these men set down the rules by which he traveled, and lived:
     Be prepared to die at any time. Don't think of tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Life is vanity.

     Observe the five commandments of Buddhism, which forbid killing, stealing, fornication, drinking, and idle talk. (However, there can be exceptions for drink and a little idle talk.)

     Give everything down to the skin if you meet with highway-men. Be ready to give up your life if they want to kill you, and never fight back.

     Don't haggle over ferry and inn charges, and tip as one should.

     Give alms to beggars and medicine to the sick when you meet them on your way.

     Never refuse a request for calligraphy, except in places where it is very difficult to go by foot.

     And when you feel inclined to break these rules, stop your journey and go home.


p.158-159 As Kaempfer noted, love between men was neither new nor uncommon in Japan, and, in the period which he observed, it was generally taken for granted. Centuries before, it had flourished in the quickly spreading Buddhist temples and monasteries, whose members were forbidden the love of women. (It was no accident that the boys of Seikenji were situated directly opposite the temple.) Then it had spread to the warrior class, among whom it was frequently proclaimed that love for a woman was an effeminate failing. In both cloister and barracks, the love of man for man was more than mere sensual gratification. Ideally, at least, it was based on a lasting relationship of loyalty and devotion.

p.203 A few followed an ancient battlefield custom: each of these traditionalists burned incense in his helmet so that if the enemy took his head they would find it sweetly scented.

p.253 He made a name for himself by incidents like that in which he strode alone into an enemy's house to deliver an ultimatum. He found the boss playing go surrounded by steely-eyed strongmen. Jirocho stood over them but the game went on. He was being elaborately ignored. So he kicked over the go board, said his piece, and walked out as coolly as he had come in.

     These were the years when he formulated the code that he later lived by:

     1. Justice first.

     2. In gambling, don't be grasping. When others are losing, try to stop the game for awhile. When you are losing, don't cheat.

     3. In mediating a dispute, be impartial. Try your best to reconcile the parties, and accept no reward for your success.

     4. Don't try to save only your own face. Save face for others too.

     5. Smile in distress. Don't be conceited in success.

     6. Don't be arrogant on the street. Wear a sword only when absolutely necessary. Be courteous and pleasant.

     7. Remember that a boss is more than a gambler. Help the weak and control the strong.

p.255 He would repay them within the day, he promised. Jirocho shivered skeptically, but Sataro insisted he could get the money. He would, he said, sell his wife to a brothel. Jirocho refused his offer. He had no wish to break up a marriage and, besides, he had seen the lady in question and doubted that she would bring in enough to make it worthwhile.

p.256 Jirocho and Buichi learned then who had given the police the tip that had led to the raid. Their revenge was remarkably mild, all things considered. They merely tied the informer to a pine tree in a lonely and plucked him bald, hair by hair.

p.264 To the Japanese there is no greater delicacy than thin slices of raw grobefish, pinkly, icily transparent, with a flavor as subtle as its appearance. And there are few foods as exciting, because eating it is like playing Russian roulette: the slightest mistake made by the man who prepares it, and the fish's deadly, tasteless poison permeates the flesh.

p.302-303 When they defied him, he had two methods of bringing them into line: hired thugs and bribery. The second proved more effective, for there always some men who h it back harder after being beaten up.

p.304 Reluctantly, he came back into the limelight to head Japan's delegation to the Peace Conference of Versailles, though he was happy at the thought of returning to Paris and his old friend Clemenceau. He took his daughter and her husband, whom he had adopted as his son. He took a young protégé of his named Konoye, for whom he had great hopes. He also took his current young lady. There were some who criticized him for this, but Saionji replied that if seventy he had to drag himself halfway around the world in the service of his government, he would at least make up his personal party as he saw fit.

When he returned to Japan he moved into the house at Okitsu. He called it Zagyo-so, a name that connotes a retreat aloof from struggle for power, with a Chinese allusion to "one who sits quietly fishing while others clamor for the catch."