Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/358

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

towns where the foreign element is strong, nevertheless serves to reflect with considerable truth the attitude of so many—so very many—foreigners toward the women of Japan.

In Japanese households the concubine or mekaké occupies a position similar to that of a servant, so far as her rights are concerned. The wife is always the mistress of the house, and looks upon her husband's mekaké in the light of a maid. Should the concubine become a mother, she has no claim upon the child, who belongs to her master and mistress, and who is taught to regard them only as his natural parents. Indeed, most frequently a

PSM V43 D358 The great temple gate at yengakuji.jpg
The Great Temple Gate of Yengakuji.

mekaké is employed in a family for the sole purpose of securing an heir; and no sooner has the child been born and weaned, than the concubine is discharged.

The mekaké has no prerogatives above the other servants of the house, and is subject to immediate dismissal whenever the master of the house desires it. No pseudo-marriage, such as suggested by Pierre Loti, ever exists between the master of the house and the mekaké. She is simply a convenience, and has been secured from some employment bureau, just as any other servant, and receives regular wages.