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or season, which is often prolonged to three, five, seven, or even fifteen days. The practice of making calls and presents still prevails, and, though quite burdensome, illustrates the thoughtfulness, good cheer, and generosity of the people."
The Dolls' Festival is the one especially devoted to the girls; and the Feast of Flags is set apart for the boys. The Festival of the Star Vega commemorates a tradition.concerning two starry lovers on opposite sides of the Milky Way, or River of Heaven. The Chrysanthemum Festival seems to have been overshadowed by the Emperor's Birthday.
There are also many “flower festivals,” such as those of viewing the plum, cherry,' wistaria, iris, morning-glory, lotus, maple, etc.
One of the most important of the Buddhist festivals is that in honor of the spirits of the dead; it is called Bon-matsuri and comes in the middle of July. Buddha's birthday in April is also observed. There is a Japanese Memorial Day, celebrated twice a year in May and November, when immense crow, i flock to the shrines called Shokonsha, and pay their homage to the spirits of those who have died for their country. Moreover, space would fail to tell of the numerous local shrines and temples, Shinto and Buddhist, where the people flock annually or semi-annually, to “worship” a few minutes and enjoy a picnic for the remainder of the day. And, in Christian circles,
1 See chap. xx. of Hearn’s “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan.” 2 See Appendix.
Christmas, Easter, and Sunday-school picnics are important and interesting occasions.
The common games are chess, go (a very complicated game slightly resembling checkers), parchesi, and cards. Flower-cards and poetical quotations are old-style, but still popular; while Occidental cards, under the name of torompu ( trump") are coming into general use. Children find great amusement also with kites, tops, battledore and shuttlecock, snow-men, dolls, cards, etc. The chief sports of young men are wrestling, rowing, tennis, and baseball. In the great American game they have become so proficient that they frequently win against the Americans and British who make up the baseball club of the Yokohama Athletic Association !
Professional wrestling-matches a continue to draw large crowds to see the huge masses of flesh measure their strength and skill. Jūjutsu is a kind of wrestling in which skill and dexterity are more important than mere physical strength. Sleight-of-hand performers and acrobats are quite popular.
The theatre 2 is a very important feature in the Japanese world of amusements, and still remains about the only place where Old Japan can be well studied. Theatrical performances in Japan are, of course, quite different from those in the Occident, and seem very tedious to Westerners, partly because they
1 See chapter on “Children's Games and Sports” in “The Mikado's Empire," and Mrs. Chaplin Ayrton's "Child-Life in Japan.”
2 See chap. xx. of “The Yankees of the East” (Curtis).
are so long and partly because they are unintelligible. When the writer attended the theatre in Mito, the play began, thirty minutes late, at 3:30 P. M., and continued, without interruption, until almost midnight. Then, according to custom, a short supplementary play of almost an hour's duration followed, so that it was about one o'clock when he finally reached home. The Japanese, however, are accustomed to this “sweetness long drawn out,” and either bring their lunches or slip out between acts to get something to eat and drink, or buy tea and cake in the theatre.
The wardrobes and the scenery are elaborate and magnificent. The former are often almost priceless heirlooms handed down from one generation to another. Changes of wardrobe are often made in the presence of the audience; an actor, by dropping off one robe (which is immediately carried away by a small boy), entirely metamorphoses his appearance. One convenient arrangement of the scenery is that of the revolving stage, so that, as an old scene gradually disappears, the new one is coming into view. The supernumeraries, moreover, though theoretically invisible, are distinctly present, but seem to distract neither players nor audience. The female parts are usually taken by men dressed as women; and animals are represented by either men or wooden models.
The orchestra plays an exceedingly important part in a Japanese drama. It consists of the samisen (a guitar of three strings), the fue (flute), and the