Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/362

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by the second-rate hotels and tea-houses bother themselves but little about any moral obligation; button the whole, the immorality laid at the door of Japanese women is unjust and misleading.

Regarding the religious life of women as affecting the ethics of the country, little remains to be said. The enamored maiden may write the name of her lover and herself on two strips of paper, and, twisting them together, tie the spell to the lattice work of the temple of Kwannon, the goddess of love, trusting that her offering and prayers may be of avail, and unite their lives and hearts.

Religion enters mostly into the lives of the Japanese people when the sands of life are nearly run out. It is then that the people, and more especially the old women, turn to Buddhism or Shintoism with great avidity, and if wealthy will make lavish gifts to the temples, or cause votive stone lanterns to be erected at their expense along the approach to the temples, and will readily yield themselves to the commands of the astute priests, so that they may be assured of future peace and happiness. The Buddhist faith undoubtedly offers the greatest inducements to believers and condemnation to heretics. The Shinto faith, which is the present court religion, is practically a hero worship, and the Shinto priests are not celibates. Some of the more popular saints or deities have been adopted by both creeds—as a matter of policy—notably the "Seven Wise Ones," Sichi Fuku Jin, among whom are Daikoku and Ebisu, the household Lares and Penates. In the Shinto temples there are no idols, but relics of the deified hero are preserved; and before the shrine stands a huge mirror of polished metal, into which the worshiper gazes, seeking to place himself face to face with his own soul. In the Buddhist temples there are idols and superstitions galore.

Such are briefly the most salient features of the ethics of the Japanese, in the account of which I have unavoidably been compelled to omit much that is interesting and novel. As I have said, on the whole the Japanese people have been done a great injustice to, when a lack of moral instinct has been charged to them. In no other country, and surely in no other language, has love found an apter exponent. Filial piety, connubial affection, parental tenderness, fraternal fondness—all these have been sung about in Japanese poetry in a thousand dainty ways, and may be daily witnessed in the lives of the people, and above all this is that ardent spirit of patriotism and love for home that so preserves the unity of the Japanese people; and should we seek for the keynote of the wondrous ancient heroism and present rapid advance of the country we will surely find it in the words Mikune no tame, "For my country's sake."