Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/298

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gestive to note the rare occurrence of sunstroke among the Japanese, and to remark that two out of three go bareheaded. The women never have their heads covered, and the men do not always protect theirs with the sun-shade. Among the lower classes, few have their heads covered except in the hottest weather—the Jinrikisha men and the Bettoes[1] running for miles bareheaded. In most cases the head is shaved on top. If exposure of the head to the direct rays of the sun is the inducing cause of sunstroke, then here, in latitude 35°, we should expect numerous cases, while, if over-eating and overdrinking—in other words, intemperate habits—are the inducing causes, then we can understand the immunity of the Japanese from this malady: for a more temperate and frugal people do not exist on the face of the globe.

One observes in traveling through the country the almost entire absence of deformities arising from accidents—no broken backs or broken noses, no unequal legs, or other mutilations or deformities of any sort. A fruitful source of these misfortunes at home may be traced to accidents which befall children, such as falling out of windows, tumbling down-stairs, being knocked down in the street by runaway horses, and, in later years, the deformities of the face, oftentimes the result of drunken rows and fights; the common occurrence of building-accidents, from insecure and dishonest staging, and the hundreds of other ways in which mutilations are met with in large factories. In Japan the houses are one story high; generally speaking, there are no windows to tumble out of, or flights of stairs to tumble down. Horses, except as pack-horses, are rare.[2] The people do not have drunken brawls. Their stagings are always built to hold together, and thus pagan temples are reared, and pagan temples are repainted, without those appalling accidents which occur in a service of like nature at home. There are no big factories; and so, with these sources of danger eliminated, we find a reason, perhaps, for the absence of deformities.

In regard to the prevalence of certain other diseases which may be of interest in a paper of this nature, it is gratifying to know that small-pox, which was formerly endemic, is now coming under control by the Government taking active measures to insure vaccination. A vaccine farm is maintained, and it is compulsory on every one to be vaccinated. The frightful scourges of this disease in past times are seen in the sadly-scarred faces of so many of the people, and in the number of blind persons one encounters.

Eye-diseases of various kinds are prevalent, and near-sightedness seems very common, judging from the number of people who wear glasses. Weakness of vision must in some measure be attributed to

  1. Bettoes are servants who run beside the horses or before them when one is driving.
  2. Only within a few years have horses been used in the streets of Tokio, and a police regulation requires a man to run in front of each one in every crowded thoroughfare.