1. Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: The Firsthand Experiences of a British Woman in Outback Japan in 1878 / IsabellaL.Bird / Japan Stuff Press
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Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: The Firsthand Experiences of a British Woman in Outback Japan in 1878

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ForewrodReading between the LinesIsabella L. Bird (1831-1904) was one of a number of renownedWest…

c=16). He does not appear to fit her description,even allowing for the subjectivity involved in suchmatters. Further in regard to Ito, we find an example of Isabella's inclinationto come to conclusions that belie her own observations.On page 185 she describes Ito's qualities as an individualand guide/interpreter. Here are some of the good things shehas to say about him:He is never late, never dawdles, never goes out in the eveningexcept on errands for me, never touches sake, is never disobedient,never requires to be told the same thing twice, is alwayswithin hearing, has a good deal of tact as to what he repeats,and all with an undisguised view to his own interest. He sendsmost of his wages to his mother, who is a widow -- "It's the customof the country" -- and seems to spend the remainder on sweetmeats,tobacco, and the luxury of frequent shampooing.This seems to have the makings of a good character reference,but Isabella apparently thinks differently since she hasprefaced this description by saying, "He has no moral sense, accordingto our notions." Near the end of this enumeration ofIto's virtues and vices -- which is largely laudatory -- Isabella againcomes to a conclusion that seems to contradict her own observations.She writes, "The habits of many of the Yokohama foreignershave helped to obliterate any distinctions between rightand wrong, if he [Ito] ever made any."One of Isabella's complaints about Ito is that he is a believerin the Shinto religion, and she feels that this belief hasnot served him well. When she is speaking of Ito's "lie" (concerningwhich, you will note, she never asks for Ito's side ofthe story), she says that "except for this original lie, I have nofault to find with him, and his Shinto creed has not taughthim any better" (p. 245). Isabella is mistaken in thinking thatany morality that Ito possesses originated in Shintoism. In fact,though Shinto may arguably form the bedrock of the Japanesepsyche, it is certainly Confucianism and Buddhism that formthe basis for its ethical standards. Thus, in faulting Shinto forany perceived defects in Ito's morality, Isabella is barking upthe wrong tree.Another basic misconception on Isabella's part concernsagain the nature of the Shinto religion. On page 101 she remarks,"Nominally, he [Ito] is a Shintoist, which means nothing."This was apparently in reference to the fact that Ito hadjust spoken of "our Buddha," even though he was not a Buddhist.Further, on page 285 she describes the occasion onwhich Ainu ask if she would like to pray at a shrine dedicatedto the Japanese hero Yoshitsune, who was venerated for his legendarykindnesses to the Ainu. Isabella declines the offer, sayingthat, after she explained to them that she "could onlyworship my own God, the Lord of Earth and Heaven, of thedead and of the living, they were too courteous to press theirrequest." To her disgust, however, Ito accepts: "As to Ito, it didnot signify to him whether or not he added another god to hisalready crowded Pantheon, and he `worshipped,' i.e. boweddown, most willingly before the great hero of his own, the conqueringrace."The pivotal point is that Shinto is a polytheistic religion,perhaps with a touch of animism, not a monotheistic belieflike Christianity. Therefore, it does not detract from Ito's credentialsas a Shintoist if he gives credence to Buddha andYoshitsune. Held up to the yardstick of Christianity, or anyother monotheistic religion, Ito would be found sorely lacking,and Isabella thus finds him.From such metaphysical issues, we might now take a look atwhat inaccuracies Isabella has committed in simpler matters, ofwhich I offer two instances. On page 111 she writes, "Much ofthe food of the peasantry is raw or half-raw salt fish, and vegetablesrendered indigestible by being coarsely pickled." As wenow know, with the proliferation of Japanese cuisine and thepopularity of sushi and sashimi, raw fish is not a hardshipfood but a luxury.On this same level, Isabella writes on page 186 that Ito "despisesthe uneducated, as he can read and write both the syllabaries."The Japanese language is written with Chinesecharacters (kanji) and two syllabaries (kana). The syllabaries arecomparable to the English alphabet in the ease with which theycan be learned, except that they are, in fact, somewhat easier.The kanji are what causes the difficulty in reading and writingJapanese, and unless you have learned them, you cannot beconsidered literate. I am sure that Ito would be shocked to hearthat Isabella characterized him as knowing only the syllabaries,not kanji, too.What might be considered Isabella's greatest inaccuracy inthe book is not, in fact, an inaccuracy but what some mightconsider a failure of character. It involves the Ainu and Isabella'soverall favorable impression of their character andphysical appearance. On page 255 she writes, "They were verykind, and so courteous, after a new fashion, that I quite forgotthat I was alone among savages." And immediately after that:"The adult man was not a pure Aino. His dark hair was notvery thick, and both it and his beard had an occasional auburngleam. I think I never saw a face more completely beautiful infeatures and expression, with a lofty, sad, far-off, gentle, intellectuallook, rather that of Sir Nöel Paton's `Christ' than of asavage. His manner was most graceful, and he spoke both Ainoand Japanese in the low musical tone which I find is a characteristicof Aino speech." On page 271, she writes, "For threedays they have kept up their graceful and kindly hospitality,going on with their ordinary life and occupations, and, thoughI have lived among them in this room by day and night, therehas been nothing which in any way could offend the most fastidioussense of delicacy."One of the disagreeable experiences she had among theAinu she describes as follows (p. 272): "They said they wouldleave me to eat and rest, and all retired but the chief's mother, a weird, witch-like woman of eighty, with shocks of yellowwhitehair, and a stern suspiciousness in her wrinkled face. Ihave come to feel as if she had the evil eye, as she sits therewatching, watching always ... She alone is suspicious of strangers,and she thinks that my visit bodes no good to her tribe."As if to confirm the old woman's suspicions, Isabella's finaljudgment of the Ainu is as follows (p. 320): "They are charmingin many ways, but make one sad, too, by their stupidity,apathy, and hopelessness, and all the sadder that their numbersappear to be again increasing; and as their physique is veryfine, there does not appear to be a prospect of the race dyingout at present."Ironically, in one of her final assessments of the Japanesepeople, Isabella makes use of the Ainu as a foil to serve up anappalling characterization of the Japanese (p. 288): "After theyellow skins, the stiff horse hair, the feeble eyelids, the elongatedeyes, the sloping eyebrows, the flat noses, the sunkenchests, the Mongolian features, the puny physique, the shakywalk of the men, the restricted totter of the women, and thegeneral impression of degeneracy conveyed by the appearanceof the Japanese, the Ainos make a very singular impression." Itis sad that, in the end, Isabella reveals that she looks upon theJapanese not as individuals but as stereotypical beings that canbe summed up in a few, well-chosen, defamatory words.In conclusion, "Unbeaten Tracks in Japan" is in many ways adelightful book, largely owing to Isabella's sprightly prose.However, the reader must read actively if he or she is to readintelligently. Thus read, the book reveals as much about Isabellaand the society from which she emerged as it does aboutJapan.***This book is based on the 1911 John Murray edition, which isan abridgment of the original work published in 1880 by thesame publisher. For those who read Japanese, the Japanese publisher Yushodo has translated the missing sections from theoriginal edition ("Bado Nihon kiko," 2002). Those wishing tolearn more about Isabella Bird and her life will enjoy "AmazingTraveler: Isabella Bird" (Evelyn Kaye, Blue Penguin Publications,1994) and "Isabella Bird and 'A Woman's Right to Do What SheCan Do Well'" (Olive Checkland, Scottish Cultural Press, 1996).Roger Speares2006

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  • 出版社: Japan Stuff Press
  • 価格: 937
  • 頁数: 412P
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  • ISBN: 9784990284800
『Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: The Firsthand Experiences of a British Woman in Outback Japan in 1878』の書評
『Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: The Firsthand Experiences of a British Woman in Outback Japan in 1878』のカテゴリ
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