Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/271

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JANUARY, 1879.



THERE is no race of people in whose origin we are more interested than in that of the Japanese. Their history going so completely back for nearly two thousand years, their civilization, which in so many respects parallels our own—the various epochs in our history being typified again and again by similar ages in Japan—all excite our deepest interest. The difficulty of tracing out ethnical affinities either through their personal peculiarities or their language presents a problem yet unsolved. That they are a composite race we cannot doubt. All their traditions point to their coming from the south, and equally sure are we that when they landed they found a hairy race of men to contest their occupation. Later history shows that a number of Chinese invasions took place, and these unwelcome visits were returned by the Japanese. Corea was invaded by the Japanese long ago. With these facts in mind, we are no longer surprised at the great variety of faces to be met with in Japan—faces purely Chinese; others with the coarser features of the northern tribes; and again the delicate and pleasant features of what is supposed to represent the typical Japanese.

The conjectures and opinions that have been advanced regarding the origin of the Japanese would form a curious and bulky collection. It is worth noting that both pagan and Christian writers have held almost equally preposterous notions regarding the origin of the Japanese. The people themselves have a tradition that they owe their origin to the sun. Kämpfer holds the absurd idea that "they are descended from the first inhabitants of Babylon." From these vagaries we pass in turn to other ideas based on some foundation of fact. In a paper read before the Asiatic Society of Japan by Mr. Aston, an affinity is