Main Botchan: A Modern Classic

Botchan: A Modern Classic

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Botchan, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Catcher in the Rye, is a classic of its kind, a sly, funny, poignant tale about a young mans rebellion against the system. Since its original publication 100 years ago, it has enjoyed a timeless popularity among Japanese readers both young and old, making it, according to Donald Keene, probably the most widely read novel in modern Japan.The setting is Japan's deep south, where the author himself spent four years teaching English in a middle school. Into this conservative world, with its social proprieties and established pecking order, breezes Botchan, down from the big city, with scant respect for either his elders or his noisy young charges; and the result is a chain of collisions large and small. Most of the story seems to occur in summer, against the drone of cicadas and the sting of mosquitoes. And in every way this is a summer book--light, sunny, and fun to read. Here, in a lively new translation much better suited to the American reader, Botchan should continue to entertain even those who have never been near the sunlit island on which these calamitous episodes take place.
Kodansha USA
176 / 104
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:
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The Late Mr. Kin-nosuke Natsume
Professor of English Literature
Imperial University
Associate Editor of the Tokyo Asahi

Yasotaro Morri
On the Editorial Staff of
The Kokusai News Agency


[Page 1]



BECAUSE of an hereditary recklessness, I have been playing always a losing game since
my childhood. During my grammar school days, I was once laid up for about a week by
jumping from the second story of the school building. Some may ask why I committed
such a rash act. There was no particular reason for doing such a thing except I happened
to be looking out into the yard from the second floor of the newly-built school house,
When one of my classmates, joking shouted at me; "Say, you big bluff, I'll bet you can't
jump down from there! O, you chicken-heart, ha, ha!" So I jumped down. The janitor of
the school had to carry me home on his back, and when my father saw me, he yelled
[Page 2]
derisively, "What at a fellow you are to go and get your bones dislocated by jumping only
from a second story!"
"I'll see I don't get dislocated next time," I answered.
One of my relatives once presented me with a pen-knife. I was showing it to my friends,
reflecting its pretty blades against the rays of the sun, when one of them chimed in that
the blades gleamed all right, but seemed rather dull for cutting with.
"Rather dull? See if they don't cut!" I retorted.
"Cut your finger, then," he challenged. And with "Finger nothing! Here goes!" I cut my
thumb slant-wise. Fortunately the knife was small and the bone of the thumb hard
enough, so the thumb is still there, but the scar will be there until my death.
About twenty steps to the east edge of our garden, there was a moderate-sized vegetable
[Page 3]
yard, rising toward the south, and in the centre of which stood a chestnut tree which was
dearer to me than life. In the season when the chestnuts were ripe, I used t; o slip out of
the house from the back door early in the morning to pick up the chestnuts which had
fallen during the night, and cat them at the school. On the west side of the vegetable yard
was the adjoining garden of a pawn shop called Yamashiro-Ya. This shopkeeper's son was

a boy about 13 or 14 years old named Kantaro. Kantaro was, it happens, a mollycoddle.
Nevertheless he had the temerity to come over the fence to our yard and steal my
One certain evening I hid myself behind a folding-gate of the fence and caught him in the
act. Having his retreat cut off he grappled with me in desperation. He was about two
years older than I, and, though weak-kneed, was physically the stronger. While I
wallopped him, he pushed his head against my breast and by chance
[Page 4]
is slipped inside my sleeve. As this hindered the free action of my arm, I tried to shake
him loose, though, his head dangled the further inside, and being no longer able to stand
the stifling combat, he bit my bare arm. It was painful. I held him fast against the fence,
and by a dexterous foot twist sent him down flat on his back. Kantaro broke the fence
and as the ground belonging to Yamashiro-ya was about six feet lower than the vegetable
yard, he fell headlong to his own territory with a thud. As he rolled off he tore away the
sleeve in which his head had been enwrapped, and my arm recovered a sudden freedom
of movement. That night when my mother went to Yamashiro-Ya to apologize, she
brought back that sleeve.
Besides the above, I did many other mischiefs. With Kaneko of a carpenter shop and Kaku
of a fishmarket, I once ruined a carrot patch of one Mosaku. The sprouts were just
shooting out and the patch was covered with straws to ensure their
[Page 5]
even healthy growth. Upon this straw-covered patch we three wrestled for fully half a
day, and consequently thoroughly smashed all the sprouts. Also I once filled up a well
which watered some rice fields owned by one Furukawa, and he followed me with kicks.
The well was so devised that from a large bamboo pole, sunk deep into the ground, the
water issued and irrigated the rice fields. Ignorant of the mechanical side of this irrigating
method at that time, I stuffed the bamboo pole with stones and sticks, and satisfied that
no more water came tip, I returned home and was eating supper when Furukawa, fiery
red with anger, burst into our house with howling protests. I believe the affair was settled
on our paying for the damage.
Father did not like me in the least, and mother always sided with my big brother. This
brother's face was polish white, and he had a fondness for taking the part of an actress at
the theatre.
"This fellow will never amount to much,"
[Page 6]
father used to remark when he saw me.

"He's so reckless that I worry about his future," I often heard mother say of me. Exactly; I
have never amounted to much. I am just as you see me; no wonder my future used to
cause anxiety to my mother. I am living without becoming but a jailbird.
Two or three days previous to my mother's death, I took it into my head to turn a
somersault in the kitchen, and painfully hit my ribs against the corner of the stove.
Mother was very angry at this and told me not to show my face again, so I went to a
relative to stay with. While there, I received the news that my mother's illness had
become very serious, and that after all efforts for her recovery, she was dead. I came home
thinking that I should have behaved better if I had known the conditions were so serious
as that. Then that big brother of mine denounced me as wanting in filial piety, and that I
had caused her untimely death. Mortified at this, I slapped his
[Page 7]
face, and thereupon received a sound scolding from father.
After the death of mother, I lived with father and brother. Father did nothing, and always
said "You're no good" to my face. What he meant by "no good" I am yet to understand. A
funny dad he was. My brother was to be seen studying English hard, saying that he was
going to be a businessman. He was like a girl by nature, and so "sassy" that we two were
never on good terms, and had to fight it out about once every ten days. When we played a
chess game one day, he placed a chessman as a "waiter," --- a cowardly tactic this, --- and
had hearty laugh on me by seeing me in a fix. His manner was so trying that time that I
banged a chessman on his forehead which was injured a little bit and bled. He told all
about this to father, who said he would disinherit me.
Then I gave up myself for lost, and expected to be really disinherited. But our maid Kiyo,
[Page 8]
had been with us for ten years or so, interceded on my behalf, , and tearfully apologized
for me, and by her appeal my father's wrath was softened. I did not regard him, however,
as one to be afraid of in any way, but rather felt sorry for our Kiyo. I had heard that Kiyo
was of a decent, well-to-do family, but being driven to poverty at the time of the
Restration, had to work as a servant. So she was an old woman by this time. This old
woman, --- by what affinity, as the Buddhists say, I don't know, --- loved me a great deal.
Strange, indeed! She was almost blindly fond of me, --- me, whom mother became
thoroughly disgusted with three days before her death; whom father considered a most
aggravating proposition all the year round, and whom the neighbors cordially hated as the
local bully among the youngsters. I had long reconciled myself to the fact that my nature
was far from being attractive to others, and so didn't mind if I were treated as a piece of
wood; so I thought it uncommon that Kiyo should pet me
[Page 9]
like that. Sometimes in the kitchen, when there was nobody around, she would praise me

saying that I was straightforward and of a good disposition. What she meant by that
exactly, was not clear to me, however. If I were of so good a nature as she said, I imagined
those other than Kiyo should accord me a better treatment. So whenever Kiyo said to me
anything of the kind, I used to answer that I did not like passing compliments. Then she
would remark; "That's the very reason I say you are of a good disposition," and would gaze
at me with absorbing tenderness. She seemed to recreate me by her own imagination, was
proud of the fact. I felt even chilled through my marrow at her constant attention to me.
After my mother was dead, Kiyo loved me still more. In my simple reasoning, I wondered
why she had taken such a fancy to me. Sometimes I thought it quite futile on her part,
that she had better quit that sort of thing, which was bad
[Page 10]
for her. But she loved me just the same. Once in a while she would buy, out of her own
pocket, some cakes or sweetmeats for me. When the night was cold, she would secretly
buy some noodle powder, and bring all unawares hot noodle gruel to my bed; or
sometimes she would even buy a bowl of steaming noodles from the peddler. Not only
with edibles, but she was generous alike with socks, pencils, note books, etc. And she
even furnished me, --- this happened some time later, --- with about three yen. I did not
ask her for the money; she offered it from her own good will by bringing it to my room,
saying that I might be in need of some cash. This, of course, embarrassed me, but as she
was so insistent I consented to borrow it. I confess I was really glad of the money. I put it
in a bag, and carried it in my pocket. While about the house, I happened to drop the bag
into a cesspool. Helpless, I told Kiyo how I had lost the money, and at once she fetched a
bamboo stick, and said she will get it for
[Page 11]
me. After a while I heard a splashing sound of water about our family well, and going
there, saw Kiyo washing the bag strung on the end of the stick. I opened the bag and
found the color of the three one-yen bills turned to faint yellow and designs fading. Kiyo
dried them at an open-fire and handed them over to me, asking if they were all right. I
smelled them and said; "They stink yet."
"Give them to me; I'll get them changed." She took those three bills, and, --- I do not
know how she went about it, --- brought three yen in silver. I forget now upon what I
spent the three yen." I'll pay you back soon," I said at the time, but didn't. I could not now
pay it back even if I wished to do so with ten times the amount.
When Kiyo gave me anything she did so always when both father and brother were out.
Many things I do not like, but what I most detest is the monopolizing of favors behind
some one
[Page 12]
else's back. Bad as my relations were with my brother, still I did not feel justified in
accepting candies or color-pencils from Kiyo without my brother's knowledge. "Why do

you give those things only to me and not to my brother also?" I asked her once, and she
answered quite unconcernedly that my brother may be left to himself as his father bought
him everything. That was partiality; father was obstinate, but I am sure he was, not a man
who would indulge in favoritism. To Kiyo, however, he might have looked that way.
There is no doubt that Kiyo was blind to the extent of her undue indulgence with me.
She was said to have conic from a well-to-do family, but the poor soul was uneducated,
and it could not be helped. All the same, you cannot tell how prejudice will drive one to
the extremes. Kiyo seemed quite sure that some day I would achieve high position in
society and become famous. Equally she was sure that my brother, who was spending, his
hours studiously, was only good for
[Page 13]
his white skin, and would stand no show in the future. Nothing can beat an old woman
for this sort of thing, I tell you. She firmly believed that whoever she liked would become
famous, while whoever she hated would not. I did not have at that time any particular
object in my life. But the persistency with which Kiyo declared that I would be a great
man some day, made me speculate myself that after all I might become one. How absurd
it seems to me now when I recall those days. I asked her once what kind of a man I
should be, but she seemed to have formed no concrete idea as to that; only she said that I
was sure to live in a house with grand entrance hall, and ride in a private rikisha.
And Kiyo seemed to have decided for herself to live with me when I became independent
and occupy my own house. "Please let me live with you," --- she repeatedly asked of me.
Feeling somewhat that I should eventually be able to own a house, I answered her "Yes,"
as far as such an
[Page 14]
answer went. This woman, by the way, was strongly imaginative. She questioned me what
place I liked, --- Kojiniachi-ku or Azabu-ku- --- and suggested that I should have a swing
in our garden, that one room be enough for European style, etc., planning everything to
suit her own fancy. I did not then care a straw for anything like a house; so neither
Japanese nor European style was much of use to me, and I told her to that effect. Then
she would praise me as uncovetous and clean of heart. Whatever I said, she had praise for
I lived, after the death of mother, in this fashion for five or six years. I had kicks from
father, had rows with brother, and had candies and praise from Kiyo. I cared for nothing
more; I thought this was enough. I imagined all other boys were leading about the same
kind of life. As Kiyo frequently told me, however, that I was to be pitied, and was
unfortunate, I imagined that that might be so. There was nothing that parti[Page 15]
cularly worried me except that father was too tight with my pocket money, and this was
rather hard on me.

In January of the 6th year after mother's death, father died of apoplexy. In April of the
same year, I graduated from a middle school, and two months later, my brother graduated
from a business college. Soon he obtained a job in the Kyushu bra branch of a certain firm
and had to go there, while I had to remain in Tokyo and continue my study. He proposed
the sale of our house and the realization of our property, to which I answered "just as you
like it." I had no intention of depending upon him anyway. Even were he to look after me,
I was sure of his starting something which would eventually end in a smash-up as we
were prone to quarrel on the least pretext. It was because in order to receive his
protection that I should have to bow before such a fellow, that I resolved that I would
live by myself even if I had to do milk delivery. Shortly afterwards he
[Page 16]
sent for a second-hand dealer and sold for a song all the bric-a-bric which had been
handed down from ages ago in our family. Our house and lot sold, through the efforts of a
middleman to a wealthy person. This transaction seemed to have netted a goodly sum to
him, but I know nothing as to the detail.
For one month previous to this, I had been rooming in a boarding house in Kanda-ku,
pending a decision as to my future course. Kiyo was greatly grieved to see the house in
which she had lived so many years change ownership, but she was helpless in the matter,
"If you were a little older, you might have inherited this house," she once remarked in
If I could have inherited the house through being a little older, I ought to have been able
to inherit the house right then. She knew nothing, and believed the lack of age only
prevented my coming into the possession of the house.
Thus I parted from my brother, but the dis[Page 17]
posal of Kiyo was a difficult proposition. My brother was, of course, unable to take her
along, nor was there any danger of her following him so far away as Kyushu, while I was
in a small room of a boarding house, and might have to clear out anytime at that. There
was no way out, so I asked her if she intended to work somewhere else. Finally she
answered me definitely that she would go to her nephew's and wait until I started my
own house and got married. This nephew was a clerk in the Court of Justice, and being
fairly well off, had invited Kiyo before more than once to come and live with him, but
Kiyo preferred to stay with us, even as a servant, since she had become well used to our
family. But now I think she thought it better to go over to her nephew than to start a new
life as servant in a strange house. Be that as it may, she advised me to have my own
household soon, or get married, so she would come and help me in housekeeping. I
become housekeeping. I believe she liked me more than she did her own kin.
[Page 18]

My brother came to me, two days previous to his departure for Kyushu, and giving me
600 yen, said that I might begin a business with it, or go ahead with my study, or spend it
in any way I liked, but that that would be the last he could spare. It was a commendable
act for my brother. What I about only 600 yen! I could get along without it, I thought,
but as his unusually simple manner appealed to me, I accepted the offer with thanks.
Then he produced 50 yen, requesting me to give it to Kiyo next time I saw her, which I
readily complied with. Two days after, I saw him off at the Shimbashi Station, and have
not set my eyes on him ever since.
Lying in my bed, I meditated on the best way to spend that 600 yen. A business is fraught
with too much trouble, and besides it was not my calling. Moreover with only 600 yen no
one could open a business worth the name. Were I even able to do it, I was far from being
educated, and after all, would lose it. Better let investments
[Page 19]
alone, but study more with the money. Dividing the 600 yen into three, and by spending
200 yen a year, I could study for three years. If I kept at one study with bulldog tenacity
for three years, I should be able to learn something. Then the selection of a school was the
next problem. By nature, there is no branch of study whatever which appeals to my taste.
Nix on languages or literature! The new poetry was all Greek to me; I could not make out
one single line of twenty. Since I detested every kind of study, any kind of study should
have been the same to me. Thinking thus, I happened to pass front of a school of physics,
and seeing a sign posted for the admittance of more students, I thought this might be a
kind of "affinity," and having asked for the prospectus, at once filed my application for
entrance. When I think of it now, it was a blunder due to my hereditary recklessness.
For three years I studied about as diligently as ordinary fellows, but not being of a
[Page 20]
brilliant quality, my standing in the class was easier to find by looking up from the
bottom. Strange, isn't it, that when three years were over, I graduated? I had to laugh at
myself, but there being no reason for complaint, I passed out.
Eight days after my graduation, the principal o the school asked me to come over and see
him. I wondered what he wanted, and went. A middle school in Shikoku was in need of a
teacher of mathematics for forty yen a month, and he sounded me to see if I would take
it. I had studied for three years, but to tell the truth, I had no intention of either teaching
or going to the country. Having nothing in sight, however, except teaching, I readily
accepted the offer. This too was a blunder clue to hereditary recklessness.
I accepted the position, and so must go there. The three years of my school life I had seen
confined in a small room, but with no kick coming or having no rough house. It was a
comparatively easy going period in my life. But now I had to

[Page 21]
pack up. Once I went to Kamakura on a picnic with my classmates while I was in the
grammar school, and that was the first and last, so far, that I stepped outside of Tokyo
since I could remember. This time I must go darn far away, that it beats Kamakura by a
mile. The prospective town is situated on the coast, and looked the size of a needle-point
on the map. It would not be much to look at anyway. I knew nothing about the place or
the people there. It did not worry me or cause any anxiety. I had simply to travel there
and that was the annoying part.
Once in a while, since our house was no more, I went to Kiyo's nephew's to see her. Her
nephew was unusually good-natured, and whenever I called upon her, he treated me well
if he happened to be at home. Kiyo would boost me sky-high to her nephew right to my
face. She went so far once as to say that when I had graduated from school, I would
purchase a house somewhere in Kojimachi-ku and get a position in a govern[Page 22]
ment office. She decided everything in her own way, and talked of it aloud, and I was
made an unwilling and bashful listener. I do not know how her nephew weighed her tales
of self-indulgence on me. Kiyo was a woman of the old type, and seemed, as if it was still
the days of Feudal Lords, to regard her nephew equally under obligation to me even as she
was herself.
After settling about my new position, I called upon her three days previous to my
departure. She was sick abed in a small room, but, on seeing me she got up and
immediately inquired;
"Master Darling, when do you begin housekeeping?"
She evidently thought as soon as a fellow finishes school, money comes to his pocket by
itself. But then how absurd to call such a "great man" "Darling." I told her simply that I
should let the house proposition go for some time, as I had to go to the country. She
looked greatly disappointed, and blankly smoothed her gray-haired
[Page 23]
sideolocks. I felt sorry for her, and said comfortingly; "I am going away but will come back
soon. I'll return in the vacation next summer, sure." Still as she appeared not fully satisfied,
I added;
"Will bring, you back a surprise. What do you like?"
She wished to eat "sasa-ame" [1] of Echigo province. I had never heard of "sasa-ame" of
Echigo. To begin with, the location is entirely different.

"There seems to be no 'sasa-ame' in the country where I'm going," I explained, and she
rejoined; "Then, in what direction?" I answered "westward" and she came back with "Is it
on the other side of Hakone?" This give-and-take conversation proved too much for me.
On the day of my departure, she came to my

[1] Sasa-ame is a kind of rice-jelly wrapped with sasa, or the bamboo leaves, well-known
as a product of Echigo province.
[Page 24]
room early in the morning and helped me to pack up. She put into my carpet-bag tooth
powder, tooth-brush and towels which she said she had bought at a dry goods store on her
way. I protested that I did not want them, but she was insitent. We rode in, rikishas to the
station. Coming up the platform, she gazed at me from outside the car, and said in a low
"This may be our last good-by. Take care of yourself."
Her eyes were full of tears. I did not cry, but was almost going to. After the train had run
some distance, thinking it would be all right now, I poked my head out of the window
and looked back. She was still there. She looked very small.
[Page 25]

WITH a long, sonorous Whistle the steamer which I was aboard came to a standstill, and
a boat was seen making toward us from the shore. The man rowing the boat was stark
naked, except for a piece of red cloth girt round his loins. A barbarous place, this! though
he may have been excused for it in such hot weather as it was. The sun's rays were strong
and the water glimmered in such strange colors as to dazzle one's sight if gazed at it for
long. I had been told by a clerk of the ship that I was to get off here. The place looked like
a fishing village about the size of Omori. Great Scott! I wouldn't stay in such a hole, I
thought, but I had to get out. So, down I jumped first into the boat, and I think five or six
others followed me. After loading about four large boxes besides, the red-cloth rowed us
ashore. When the boat struck the sand, I was again the first to jump out, and right away I
ac[Page 26]
costed a skinny urchin standing near-by, asking him where the middle school was. The kid
answered blankly that he did not know. Confound the dull-head! Not to know where the

middle school was, living in such a tiny bit of a town, Then a man wearing a rig with
short, queer shaped sleeves approached me and bade me follow. I walked after him and
was taken to an inn called Minato-Ya. The maids of the inn, who gave me a disagreeable
impression, chorussed at sight of me; "Please step inside." This discouraged me in
proceeding further, and I asked them, standing at the door-way, to show me the middle
school. On being told that the middle school was about four miles away by rail, I became
still more discouraged at putting up there. I snatched my two valises from the man with
queershaped sleeves who had guided me so far, and strode away. The people of the inn
looked after me with a dazed expression.
The station was easily found, and a ticket
[Page 27]
bought without any fuss. The coach I got in was about as dignified as a match-box. The
train rambled on for about five minutes, and then I had to get off! No wonder the fare
was cheap; it cost only three sen. I then hired a rikisha and arrived at the middle school,
but school was already over and nobody was there. The teacher on night-duty was out
just for a while, said the janitor, --- the night-watch was taking life easy, sure. I thought of
visiting the principal, but being tired, ordered the rikishaman to take me to a hotel. He
did this with much alacrity and led me to a hotel called Yamashiro-Ya. I felt it rather
amusing to find the name Yamashiro-Ya the same as that of Kantaro's house.
They ushered me to a dark room below the stairway. No one could stay in such a hot
place! I said I did not like such a warm room, but the maid dumped my valises on the
floor and left me, mumbling that all the other rooms were occupied. So I took the room
though it took sonic resolu[Page 28]
tion to stand the weltering heat. After a while, the maid said the bath was ready, and I
took one. On my way back from the bath room, I peeped about, and found many rooms,
which looked much cooler than mine, vacant. Sunnovgun! They had lied. By'm-by, she
fetched my supper. Although the room was hot, the meal was a deal better than the kind
I used to have in my boarding house. While waiting on me, she questioned me where I
was from, and I said, "from Tokyo." Then she asked "Isn't Tokyo a nice place?" and I shot
back, Bet 'tis." About the time the maid had reached the kitchen, loud laughs were heard.
There was nothing doing, so I went to bed, but could not sleep. Not only was it hot, but
noisy, --- about five times noisier than my boarding house. While snoozing, I dreamed of
Kiyo. She was eating "sasa-ame" of Echigo province without taking off the wrapper of
bamboo leaves. I tried to stop her saying bamboo leaves may do her harm, but she replied,
"O, no,
[Page 29]
these leaves are very helpful for the health," and ate them with much relish. Astounded, I
laughed "Ha, ha, ha!" and so awoke. The maid was opening the outside shutters. The
weather was just as clear as the previous day.

I had heard once before that when travelling, one should give "tea money" to the hotel or
inn where he stops; that unless this "tea money" is given, the hostelry would accord him
rather rough treatment. It must have been on account of my being slow in the fork-over
of this "tea money" that they had huddled me into such a narrow, dark room. Likewise
my shabby clothes and the carpet bags and satin umbrella must have been accountable for
it. Took me for a piker, eh- those hayseeds! I would give them a knocker with "tea
money." I left Tokyo with about 30 yen in my pocket, which remained from my school
expenses. Taking off the railway and steamship fare, and other incidental expenses, I had
still about 14 yen in my pocket. I could
[Page 30]
give them all I had; --- what did I care, I was going to get a salary now. All country folk
are tight-wads, and one 5-yen bill would hit them square. Now watch and see. Having
washed myself, I returned to my room and waited, and the maid of the night before
brought in my breakfast. Waiting on me with a tray, she looked at me with a sort of
sulphuric smile. Rude! Is any parade marching on my face? I should say. Even my face is
far better than that of the maid. I intended of giving "tea money" after breakfast, but I
became disgusted, and taking out one 5-yen bill told her to take it to the office later. The
face of the maid became then shy and awkward. After the meal, I left for the school. The
maid did not have my shoes polished.
I had had vague idea of the direction of the school as I rode to it the previous day, so
turning two or three corners, I came to the front gate. From the gate to the entrance the
walk was paved with granite. When I had passed to the entrance
[Page 31]
in the rikisha, this walk made so outlandishly a loud noise that I had felt coy. On my way
to the school, I met a number of the students in uniforms of cotton drill and they all
entered this gate. Some of them were taller than I and looked much stronger. When I
thought of teaching fellows of this ilk, I was impressed with a queer sort of uneasiness.
My card was taken to the principal, to whose room I was ushered at once. With scant
mustache, dark-skinned and big-eyed, the principal was a man who looked like a badger.
He studiously assumed an air of superiority, and saying he would like to see me do my
best, handed the note of appointment, stamped big, in a solemn manner. This note I
threw away into the sea on my way back to Tokyo. He said he would introduce me to all
my fellow teachers, and I was to show to each one of them the note of appointment.
What a bother! It would be far better to stick this note up in the teachers' room for three
days instead of going through such
[Page 32]
a monkey process.
The teachers would not be all in the room until the bugle for the first hour was sounded.
There was plenty of time. The principal took out his watch, and saying that he would
acquaint me particularly with the school by-and-by, he would only furnish me now with

general matters, and started a long lecture on the spirit of education. For a while I listened
to him with my mind half away somewhere else, but about half way through his lecture, I
began to realize that I should soon be in a bad fix. I could not do, by any means, all he
expected of me. He expected that I should make myself an example to the students,
should become an object of admiration for the whole school or should exert my moral
influence, besides teaching techinical knowledge in order to become a real educator, or
something ridiculously high-sounding. No man with such admirable qualities would conic
so far away for only 40 yen a month! Men are generally alike. If one gets
[Page 33]
excited, one is liable to fight, I thought, but if things are to be kept on in the way the
principal says, I could hardly open my mouth to utter anything, nor take a stroll around
the place. If they wanted me to fill such an onerous post, they should have told all that
before. I hate to tell a lie; 1 would give it up as having been cheated, and get out of this
mess like a man there and then. I had only about 9 yen left in my pocket after tipping the
hotel 5 yen. Nine yen would not take me back to Tokyo. I had better not have tipped the
hotel; what a pity! However, I would be able to manage it somehow. I considered it
better to run short in my return expenses than to tell a lie.
"I cannot do it the way you want me to. I return this appointment."
I shoved back the note. The principal winked his badger-like eyes and gazed at me. Then
he said;
"What I have said just now is what I desire of
[Page 34]
you. I know well that you cannot do all I want. So don't worry."
And he laughed. If he knew it so well already, what on earth did he scare me for?
Meanwhile the bugle sounded, being followed by bustling noises in the direction of the
class rooms. All the teachers would be now ready, I was told, and I followed the principal
to the teachers' room. In a spacious rectangular room, they sat each before a table lined
along the walls. When I entered the room, they all glanced at me as if by previous
agreement. Did they think my face was for a show? The, as per instructions, I introduced
myself and showed the note to each one of them. Most of them left their chairs and made
a slight bow of acknowledgement. But some of the more painfully polite took the note
and read it and respectfully returned it to me, just like the cheap performances at a rural
show! When I came to the fifteenth, who was the teacher of physical training, I became
impatient at re[Page 35]
peating the same old thing so often. The other side had to do it only once, but my side
had to do it fifteen times. They ought to have had some sympathy.

Among those I met in the room there was Mr. Blank who was head teacher. Said he was a
Bachelor of Arts. I suppose he was a great man since he was a graduate from Imperial
University and had such a title. He talked in a strangely effeminate voice like a woman.
But what surprised me most was that he wore a flannel shirt. However thin it might be,
flannel is flannel and must have been pretty warm at that time of the year. What
painstaking dress is required which will be becoming a B. A.! And it was a red shirt;
wouldn't that kill you! I heard afterwards that he wears a red shirt all the year round.
What a strange affliction! According to his own explanation, he has his shirts made to
order for the sake of his health as the red color is beneficial to the physical condition.
Unnecessary worry,
[Page 36]
this, for that being the case, he should have had his coat and hakama also in red. And
there was one Mr. Koga, teacher of English, whose complexion was very pale. Pale-faced
people are usually thin, but this man was pale and fat. When I was attending grammar
school, there was one Tami Asai in our class, and his father was just as pale as this Koga.
Asai was a farmer, and I asked Kiyo if one's face would become pale if he took up
farming. Kiyo said it was not so; Asai ate always Hubbard squash of "uranari" [1] and that
was the reason. Thereafter when I saw any man pale and fat, I took it for granted that it
was the result of his having eaten too much of squash of "uranari." This English teacher
was surely subsisting upon squash. However, what the meaning of "uranari" is, I do not
know. I asked Kiyo once, but she only laughed. Probably she did not know. Among the
teachers of

[1] Means the last crop.
[Page 37]
mathematics, there was one named Hotta. This was a fellow of massive body, with hair
closely cropped. He looked like one of the old-time devilish priests who made the Eizan
temple famous. I showed him the note politely, but he did not even look at it, and blurted
"You're the man newly appointed, eh? Come and see me sometime, ha, ha, ha!"
Devil take his "Ha, ha, ha!" Who would go to see a fellow so void of the sense of common
decency! I gave this priest from this time the nickname of Porcupine.
The Confucian teacher was strict in his manner as becoming to his profession. "Arrived
yesterday? You must be tired. Start teaching already? Working hard, indeed!" --- and so
on. He was an old man, quite sociable and talkative.
The teacher of drawing was altogether like a cheap actor. He wore a thin, flappy haori of
sukiya, and, toying with a fan, he giggle; "Where from? eh? Tokyo? Glad to hear that,

[Page 38]
You make another of our group. I'm a Tokyo kid myself."
If such a fellow prided himself on being a Tokyo kid, I wished I had never been born in
Tokyo. I might go on writing about each one of them, for there are may, but I stop here
otherwise there will be no end to it.
When my formal introduction was over, the principal said that I might go for the day, but
I should make arrangements as to the class hours, etc., with the head teacher of
mathematics and begin teaching from the day after the morrow. Asked who was the head
teacher of mathematics, I found that he was no other than that Porcupine. Holy smokes!
Was I to serve under him- I was disappointed.
"Say, where are you stopping? Yamashiro-Ya? Well, I'll come and talk it over."
So saying, Porcupine, chalk in hand, left the room in his class. That was rather humiliating
for a head-teacher to come over and see his
[Page 39]
subordinate, but it was better than to call me over to him.
After leaving the school, I thought of returning straight to the hotel, but as there was
nothing to do, I decided to take in a little of the town, and started walking about
following my nose. I saw prefectural building; it was an old structure of the last century.
Also I saw the barracks; they were less imposing than those of the Azabu Regimetn,
Tokyo. I passed through the main street. The width of the street is about one half that of
Kagurazaka, and its aspect is inferior. What about a castle-town of 250,000-koku Lord!
Pity the fellows who get swell-headed in such a place as a castle-town!
While I walked about musing like this, I found myself in front of Yamashiro-Ya. The
town was much narrower than I had been led to believe.
"I think I have seen nearly all. Guess I'll return and eat." And I entered the gate. The
mistress of the hotel who was sitting at the coun[Page 40]
ter, jumped out of her place at my appearance, and with "Are you back, Sire!" scraped the
floor with her forehead. When I took my shoes off and stepped inside, the maid took me
to an upstairs room that had become vacant. It was a front room of 15 mats (about go
square feet). I had never before lived in so splendid a room as this. As it was quite
uncertain when I should again be able to occupy such a room in future, I took off my
European dress, and with only a single Japanese summer coat on, sprawled in the centre of
the room in the shape of the Japanese letter "big" (

). I found it very refreshing.

After luncheon I at once wrote a letter to Kiyo. I hate most to write letters because I am
poor at sentence-making and also poor in my stock of words. Neither did I have any place
to which to address my letters. However, Kiyo might be getting anxious. It would not do
to let her worry lest she think the steamer which I boarded had been wrecked and I was
drowned, --- so I braced
[Page 41]
up and wrote a long on C. The body of the letter was as follows:
"Arrived yesterday. A dull place. Am sleeping in a room of 15 mats. Tipped the hotel five
yen as tea money. The house-wife of the hotel scraped the floor with her forehead.
Couldn't sleep last night. Dreamed Kiyo cat sasa-ame together with the bamboo-leaf
wrappers. Will return next summer. Went to the school to-day and nicknamed all the
fellows. 'Badger' for the principal, 'Red Shirt' for the head-teacher, 'Hubbard Squash' for
the teacher of English, 'Porcupine' the teacher of mathematics and 'Clown' for that of
drawing. Will write you many other things soon. Good bye."
When I finished writing the letter, I felt better and sleepy. So I slept in the centre of the
room, as I had done before, in the letter "big" shape (
a sound sleep.

). No dream this time, and I had

[Page 42]
"Is this the room?" --- a loud voice was beard, --- a voice which woke me up, and
Porcupine entered.
"How do you do? What you have to do in the school ----- " he began talking shop as soon
as I got up and rattled me much. On learning my duties in the school, there seemed to be
no difficulty, and I decided to accept. If only such were what was expected of me, I
would not be surprised were I told to start not only two days hence but even from the
following day. The talk on business over, Porcupine said that he did not think it was my
intention to stay in such a hotel all the time, that he would find a room for me in a good
boarding house, and that I should move.
"They wouldn't take in another from anybody else but I can do it right away. The sooner
the better. Go and look at the room to-day, move tomorrow and start teaching from the
next day. That'll be all nice and settled."
He seemed satisfied by arranging all by him[Page 43]
self. Indeed, I should not be able to occupy such a room for Iona. I might have to blow in
all of my salary for the hotel bill and yet be short of squaring it. It was pity to leave the
hotel so soon after I had just shone with a 5-yen tip. However, it being decidedly
convenient to move and get settled early if I had to move at all, I asked Porcupine to get

that room for me. He told me then to come over with him and see the house at any rate,
and I did. The house was situated mid-way up a hill at the end of the town, and was a
quiet. The boss was said to be dealer in antique curios, called Ikagin, and his wife was
about four years his senior. I learned the English word "witch" when I was in the English
middle school, and this woman looked exactly I like one. But as she was another man's
wife, what did I care if she was a witch. Finally I decided to live in the house from the
next day. On our way back Porcupine treated me to a cup of ice-water. When I first met
him in the school,
[Page 44]
thought him a disgustingly overbearing fellow, but judging by the way he had looked after
me so far, he appeared not so bad after all. Only he seemed, like me, impatient by nature
and of quick-temper. I heard afterward that he was liked most by all the students in the

[Page 45]

MY teaching began at last. When I entered the class-room and stepped upon the platform
for the first time, I felt somewhat strange. While lecturing, I wondered if a fellow like me
could lecturing keep up the profession of public instructor. The students were noisy.
Once in a while, they would holler "Teacher!" "Teacher," --- it was "going some." I had
been calling others "teacher" every day so far, in the school of physics, but in calling others
"teacher" and being called one, there is a wide gap of difference. It made me feel as if
some one was tickling my soles. I am not a sneakish fellow, nor a coward; only --- it's a
pity --- I lack audacity. If one calls me "teacher" aloud, it gives me a shock similar to that
of hearing the noon-gun in Marunouchi when I was hungry. The first hour passed away in
a dashing manner. And it passed away without encounter any knotty questions. As I
returned to the
[Page 46]
teachers' room, Porcupine asked me how it was. I simply answered "well," and he seemed
When I left the teachers' room, chalk in hand, for the second hour class, I felt as if I was
invading the enemy's territory. On entering the room, I found the students for this hour
were all big fellows. I am a Tokyo kid, delicately built and small, and did not appear very
impressive even in my elevated position. If it comes to a scraping, I can hold my own even
with wrestlers, but I had no means of appearing aweinspiring, merely by the aid of my
tongue, to so many as forty such big chaps before me. Believing, however, that it would
set a bad precedent to show these country fellows any weakness, I lectured rather loudly
and in brusque tone. During the first part the students were taken aback and listened

literally with their mouths open. "That's one on you!" I thought. Elated by my success, I
kept on lecturing in this tone, when one who looked the
[Page 47]
strongest, sitting in the middle of the front row stood up suddenly and called "Teacher!"
There it goes! --- I thought, and asked him what it was.
"A-ah sa-ay, you talk too quick. A-ah ca-an't you make it a leetle slow? A-ah?" "A-ah caan't you?" A-ah?" was altogether dull.
"If I talk too fast, I'll make it slow, but I'm a Tokyo fellow, and can't talk the way you do.
If you don't understand it, better wait until you do."
So I answered him. In this way the second hour was closed better than I had expected.
Only, as I was about to leave the class, one of the students asked me, "A-ah say, won't you
please do them for me?" and showed me some problems in geometry which I was sure I
could not solve. This proved to be somewhat a damper on me. But, helpless, I told him I
could not make them out, and telling him that I would show him how next time, hastily
got out of the room. And all of them raised "Whee---ee!"
[Page 48]
Some of them were heard saying "He doesn't know much." Don't take a teacher for an
encyclopaedia! If I could work out such hard questions as these easily, I would not be in
such a backwoods town for forty yen a month. I returned to the teachers' room.
"How was it this time?" asked Porcupine. I said "Umh." But not satisfied with "Umh"
only, I added that all the students in this school were boneheads. He put up a whimsical
The third and the fourth hour and the first hour in the afternoon were more or less the
same. In all the classes I attended, I made some kind of blunder. I realised that the
profession of teaching not quite so easy a calling as might have appeared. My teaching for
the day was finished but I could not get away. I had to wait alone until three o'clock. I
understood that at three o'clock the students of my classes would finish cleaning tip the
rooms and report to me, whereupon I would go over the rooms. Then I would
[Page 49]
run through the students' roll, and then be free to go home. Outrageous, indeed, to keep
on chained to the school, staring at the empty space when he had nothing more to do,
even though he was "bought" by a salary! Other fellow teachers, however, meekly
submitted to the regulation, and believing it not well for me, --- a new comer --- to fuss
about it, I stood it. On my way home, I appealed to Porcupine as to the absurdity of
keeping me there till three o'clock regardless of my having nothing to do in the school. He
said "Yes" and laughed. But he became serious and in an advisory manner told me not to
make many complaints about the school.

"Talk to me only, if you want to, There are some queer guys around."
As we parted at the next corner, I did not have time to hear more from him.
On reaching my room, the boss of the house came to me saying, "Let me serve you tea." I
expected he was going to treat me to some good
[Page 50]
tea since he said "Let me serve you," but he simply made himself at home and drank my
own tea. Judging by this, I thought he might be practising "Let me serve you" during my
absence. The boss said that he was fond of antique drawings and curios and finally had
decided to start in that business.
"You look like one quite taken about art. Suppose you begin patronizing my business just
for fun as er-connoisserur of art?"
It was the least expected kind of solicitation. Two years ago, I went to the Imperial Hotel
(Tokyo) on an errand, and I was taken for a locksmith. When I went to see the Daibutsu
at Kamakura, having wrapped up myself from head to toe with a blanket, a rikisha man
addressed me as "Gov'ner." I have been mistaken on many occasions for as many things,
but none so far has counted on me as a probable connoisseur of art. One should know
better by my appearance. Any one who aspires to be a patron of art is usually
[Page 51]
pictured, --- you may see in any drawing, --- with either a hood on his head, or carrying a
tanzaku [1] in his hand. The fellow who calls me a connoisseur of art and pretends to
mean it, may be surely as crooked as a dog's hind legs. I told him I did not like such artstuff, which is usually favored by retired people. He laughed, and remarking that that
nobody liked it at first, but once in it, will find it so fascinating that he will hardly get over
it, served tea for himself and drank it in a grotesque manner. I may say that I had asked
him the night before to buy some tea for me, but I did not like such a bitter, heavy kind.
One swallow seemed to act right on my stomach. I told him to buy a kind not so bitter as
that, and he answered "All right, Sir," and drank another cup. The fellow seemed never to
know of having enough of anything so long as it was another man's. After he left the
room, I

[1] A tanzaku is a long, narrow strip of stiff paper on a Japanese poem is written.
[Page 52]
prepared for the morrow and went to bed.
Everyday thereafter I attended at the school and worked as per regulations. Every day on
my return, the boss came to my room with the same old "Let me serve you tea." In about

a week I understood the school in a general way, and had my own idea as to the
personality of the boss and his wife. I heard from one of my fellow teachers that the first
week to one month after the receipt of the appointment worried them most as to
whether they had been favorably received among the students. I never felt anything on
that score. Blunders in the class room once in a while caused me chagrin, but in about half
an hour everything would clear out of my head. I am a fellow who, by nature, can't be
worrying long about about anything even if I try to. I was absolutely indefferent as how
my blunders in the class room affected the students, or how much further they affected
the principal or the head-teacher. As I mentioned before, I am not a fel
[Page 53]
low of much audacity to speak of, but I am quick to give up anything when I see its
I had resolved to go elsewhere at once if the school did not suit me. In consequence,
neither Badger nor Red Shirt wielded any influence over me. And still less did I feel like
coaxing or coddling the youngsters in the class room.
So far it was O.K. with the school, but not so easy as that at my boarding house. I could
have stood it if it had been only the boss coming to my room after my tea. But he would
fetch many things to my room. First time he brought in seals. [1] He displayed about ten
of them before me and persuaded me to buy them for three yen, which was very cheap,
he said. Did he take me for a third rate painter making a round of the country? I told him
I did not want them. Next

[1] Artists have several seals of stone with which to stamp on the picture they draw as a
guarantee of their personal work or for identification. The shape and kind of seals are
quite a hobby among artists, and sales or exchange are of common occurrence.
[Page 54]
time he brought in a panel picture of flowers and birds, drawn by one Kazan or
somebody. He hung it against the wall of the alcove and asked me if it was not well done,
and I echoed it looked well done. Then he started lecturing about Kazan, that there are
two Kazans, one is Kazan something and tile other is Kazan any thing, and that this
picture was the work of that Kazan something. After this nonsensical lecture, he insisted
that he would make it fifteen yen for me to buy it. I declined the offer saying that vas shy
of the money.
"You can pay any time." He was insistent I settled him by telling him of my having no
intention of purchasing it even if I had the necessary money. Again next time, he yanked
in a big writing stone slab about the size of a ridge-tile.
"This is a tankei," [1] he said. As he "tankei-

[1] Tankei is the name of a place in China where a certain kind of stone suitable for
writing purpose was produced.
[Page 55]
ed" two or three times, I asked for fun what was a tankei. Right away he commenced
lecturing on the subject. "There are the upper, the mid and the lower stratum in tankei,"
he said, "Most of tankei slabs to-day are made from the tipper stratum," he continued,
"but this one is surely from the middle stratum. Look at this 'gan.' [1] 'Tis certainly rare to
have three 'gans' like this. The ink-cake grates smoothly on it, Try it, sir," --- and he
pushed it towards me. I asked him how much, and he answered that on account of its
owner having brought it from China and wishing to sell it as soon as possible, he would
make it very cheap, that I could have it for thirty yen. I was sure he was a fool. I seemed
to be able to get through the school somehow, but I would soon give out if this "curio
siege" kept on long.
Shortly afterwards, I began to get sick of the

[1] "Gan" may be understood as a kind of natural mark on the stone peculiar to the stone
from Tankei.
[Page 56]
school. One certain night, while I was strolling about a street named Omachi, I happened
to notice a sign of noodles below of which was annotated "Tokyo" in the house next to
the post office. I am very fond of noodles. While I was in Tokyo, if I passed by a noodle
house and smelled the seasoning spices, I felt uncontrollable temptation to go inside at any
cost. Up to this time I had forgotten the noodle oil account of mathematics and antique
curios, but since I had seen thus the sign of noodles, I could hardly pass it by unnoticed.
So availing myself of this opportunity, I went in. It was riot quite up to what I bad judged
by the sign. Since it claimed to follow the Tokyo style, they should have tidied up a little
bit about the room. They did not either know Tokyo or have the means, --- I did not
know which, but the room was miserably dirty. The floor-mats had all seen better clays
and felt shaggy with sandy dust. The sootcovered walls defied the blackest black. The
ceiling was not
[Page 57]
only smoked by the lamp black, but was so low as to force one involuntarily bend down
his neck. Only the price-list, on which was glaringly written "Noodles" and which was
pasted on the wall, was entirely new. I was certain that they bought an old house and
opened the business just two or three days More. At the head of the price-list appeared
"tempura" (noodles served with shrimp fried in batter).
"Say, fetch me some tempura," I ordered in a loud voice. Then three fellows who had
been making a chewing noise together in a corner, looked in my direction. As the room

was dark I did not notice them at first. But when we looked at each other, I found them
all to be boys in our school. They "how d'ye do'd" me and I acknowledge it. That night,
having come across the noodle after so long a time, it tasted so fine that I ate four bowls.
The next day as I entered the class room quite unconcernedly, I saw on the black board
[Page 58]
in letters so large as to take up the whole space; "Professor Tempura." The boys all
glanced at my face and made merry hee-haws at my cost. It was so absurd that I asked
them if it was in any way funny for me to eat tempura noodle. Thereupon one of them
said, --- "But four bowls is too much." What did they care if I ate four bowls or five as
long as I paid it with my own money, --- and speedily finishing up my class, I returned to
the teachers' room. After ten minutes' recess, I went to the next class, and there on the
black board was newly written quite as large as before; "Four bowls of tempura noodles,
but don't laugh."
The first one did not arouse any ill-temper in me, but this time it made me feel irritating
mad. A joke carried too far becomes mischievous. It is like the undue jealousy of some
women who, like coal, look black and suggest flames. Nobody likes it. These country
simpletons, unable to differentiate upon so delicate a boundary, would
[Page 59]
seem to be bent on pushing everything to the limit. As they lived in such a narrow town
where one has no more to see if he goes on strolling about for one hour, and as they were
capable of doing nothing better, they were trumpeting aloud this tempura incident in
quite as serious a manner as the Russo-Japanese war. What a bunch of miserable pups! It
is because they are raised in this fashion from their boyhood that there are many punies
who, like the dwarf maple tree in the flower pot, mature gnarled and twisted. I have no
objection to laugh myself with others over innocent jokes. But how's this? Boys as they
are, they showed a "poisonous temper." Silently erasing off "tempura" from the board, I
questioned them if they thought such mischief interesting, that this was a coward joke
and if they knew the meaning of "cowardice." Some of them answered that to get angry
on being laughed at over one's own doing, was cowardice. What made them so disgusting
as this! I pitied
[Page 60]
myself for comic from far off Tokyo to teach such a lot.
"Keep your month shut, and study hard," I snapped, and started the class. In the next class
again there was written; "When one cats tempura noodles it makes him drawl nonsense."
There seemed no end to it. I was thoroughly aroused with anger, and declaring that I
would not teach such sassies, went home straight. The boys were glad of having an
unexpected holiday, so I heard. When things had come to this pass, the antique curious
seemed far more preferable to the school.

My return home and sleep over night greatly rounded off my rugged temper over the
tempura affair. I went to the school, and they were there also. I could not tell, what was
what. The three days thereafter were pacific, and on the night of the fourth day, I went to
a suburb called Sumida and ate "dango" (small balls made on glutinous rice, dressed with
sugar-paste). Sumida is a
[Page 61]
town where there are restaurants, hot-springs bath houses and a park, and in addition, the
"tenderloin." The dango shop where I went was near the entrance to the tenderloin, and as
the dango served there was widely known for its nice taste, I dropped in on my way back
from my bath. As I did not meet any students this time, I thought nobody knew of it, but
when I entered the first hour class next day, I found written oil the black board; "Two
dishes of dango---7 sen." It is true that I ate two dishes and paid seven sen. Troublesome
kids! I declare. I expected with certainty that there would be something at the second
hour, and there it was; "The dango in the tenderloin taste fine." Stupid wretches!
No sooner I thought the dango incident closed than the red towel became the topic for
widespread possip. Inquiry as to the story revealed it to be something unusually absurd.
Since my arrival here, I had made it a part of my routine to take in the hot springs bath
every day. While
[Page 62]
there was nothing in this town which compared favorably with Tokyo, the hot springs
were worthy of praise. So long as I was in the town, I decided that I would have a dip
every day, and went there walking, partly for physical exercise, before my supper. And
whenever I went there I used to carry a large-size European towel dangling from my hand.
Added to somewhat reddish color the towel had acquired by its having been soaked in the
hot-springs, the red color on its border, which was not fast enough, streaked about so that
the towel now looked as if it were dyed red. This towel hung down from my hand on
both ways whether afoot or riding in the train. For this reason, the students nicknamed
me Red Towel. Honest, it is exasperating to live in a little town.
There is some more. The bath house I patronized was a newly built three-story house,
and for the patrons of the first class the house provided a bath-robe, in addition to an
attendant, and the
[Page 63]
cost was only eight sen. On top of that, a maid would serve tea in a regular polite fashion.
I always paid the first class. Then those gossipy spotters started saying that for one who
made only forty yen a month to take a first class bath every day was extravagant. Why the
devil should they care? It was none of their business.
There is still some more. The bath-tub, --- or the tank in this case, --- was built of granite,
and measured about thirty square feet. Usually there were thirteen or fourteen people in
the tank, but sometimes there was none. As the water came up clear to the breast, I

enjoyed, for athletic purposes, swimming in the tank. I delighted in swimming in this 30square feet tank, taking chances of the total absence of other people. Once, going
downstairs from the third story with a light heart, and peeping through the entrance of
the tank to see if I should be able to swim, I noticed a sign put up in which was boldly
written; "No swimming allowed in the tank." As
[Page 64]
there may not have been many who swam in the tank, this notice was probably put up
particularly for my sake. After that I gave up swimming. But although I gave up
swimming, I was surprised, when I went to the school, to see on the board, as usual,
written; "No swimming allowed in the tank." It seemed as if all the students united in
tracking me everywhere. They made me sick. I was not a fellow to stop doing whatever I
had started upon no matter what students might say, but I became thoroughly disgusted
when, I meditated on why I had come to such a narrow, suffocating place. And, then,
when I returned home, the "antique curio siege" was still going on.
[Page 65]

FOR us teachers there was a duty of night watch in the school, and we had to do it in
turn. But Badger and Red Shirt were not in it. On asking why these two were exempt
from this duty, I was told that they were accorded by the government treatment similar
to officials of "Sonin" rank. Oh, fudge! They were paid more, worked less, and were then
excused from this night watch. It was not fair. They made regulations to suit their
convenience and seemed to regard all this as a matter of course. How could they be so
brazen faced as this! I was greatly dissatisfied relative to this question, but according to the
opinion of Porcupine, protests by a single person, with what insistency they may be made,
will not be heard. They ought to be heard whether they are made by one person or by
two if they are just. Porcupine remonstrated with me by quoting "Might is right" in
English. I did not catch his point,
[Page 66]
so I asked him again, and he told me that it meant the right of the stronger. If it was the
right of the stronger I had known it for long, and did not require Porcupine explain that to
me at this time. The right of the stronger was a question different from that of the night
watch. Who would agree that Badger and Red Shirt were the stronger? But argument or
no argument, the turn of this night watch at last fell upon me. Being quite fastidious, I
never enjoyed sound sleep unless I slept comfortably in my own bedding. From my
childhood, I never stayed out overnight. When I did not find sleeping under the roof of
my friends inviting, night watch in the school, you may be sure, was still worse. However
repulsive, if this was a part of the forty yen a month, there was no alternative. I had to do

To remain alone in the school after the faculity and students had gone home, was
something particularly awkward. The room for the night watch was in the rear of the
school building at
[Page 67]
the west end of the dormitory. I stepped inside to see how it was, and finding it squarely
facing the setting sun, I thought I would melt. In spite of autumn having already set in, the
hot spell still lingered, quite in keeping with the dilly-dally atomosphere of the country. I
ordered the same kind of meal as served for the students, and finished my supper. The
meal was unspeakably poor. It was a wonder they could subsist on such miserable stuff
and keep on "roughing it" in that lively fashion. Not only that, they were always hungry
for supper, finishing it at 4.30 in the afternoon. They must be heroes in a sense. I had thus
my supper, but the sun being still high, could not go to bed yet. I felt like going to the
hot-springs. I did not know the wrong or right of night watch going out, but it was
oppressively trying to stand a life akin to heavy imprisonment. When I called at the school
the first time and inquired about night watch, I was told by the janitor that he had just
gone out and I thought it
[Page 68]
strange. But now by taking the turn of night watch myself, I could fathom the situation; it
was right for any night watch to go out. I told the janitor that I was going out for a
minute. He asked me "on business?" and I answered "No," but to take a bath at the hot
springs, and went out straight. It was too bad that I had left my red towel at home, but I
would borrow one over there for to-day.
I took plenty of time in dipping in the bath and as it became dark at last, I came to the
Furumachi Station on a train. It was only about four blocks to the school; I could cover it
in no time. When I started walking schoolwards, Badger was seen coming from the
opposite direction. Badger, I presumed, was going to the hot springs by this train. He came
with brisk steps, and as we passed by, I nodded my courtesy. Then Badger, with a
studiously owlish countenance, asked:
"Am I wrong to understand that you are night watch?"
[Page 69]
Chuck that "Am-I-wrong-to-understand"! Two hours ago, did he not say to me "You're
on first night watch to-night. Now, take care of yourself?" What makes one use such a
roundabout, twisted way of saying anything when he becomes a principal? I was far from
"Yes, Sir," I said, "I'm night watch tonight, and as I am night watch I will return to the
school and stay there overnight, sure." With this parting shot, I left him where we met.
Coming then to the cross-streets of Katamachi, I met Porcupine. This is a narrow place, I
tell you. Whenever one ventures out, he is sure to come across some familiar face.

"Say, aren't you night watch?" he hallooed, and I said "Yes, I am." "Tis wrong for night
watch to leave his post at his pleasure," he added, and to this I blurted out with a bold
front; "Nothing wrong at all. It is wrong not to go out."
"Say, old man, your slap-dash is going to the
[Page 70]
limit. Wouldn't look well for the principal or the head teacher to see you out like this.
The submissive tone of his remark was contrary to Porcupine as I bad known him so far,
so I cut him short by saying:
"I have met the principal just now. Why, he approved my taking a stroll about the town.
Said it would be hard on night watch unless he took a walk when it is hot." Then I made a
bee-line for the school.
Soon it was night. I called the janitor to my room and had a chat for about two hours. I
grew tired of this, and thought I would get into bed anyway, even if I could not sleep. I
put on my night shirt, lifted the mosquito-net, rolled off the red blanket and fell down flat
on my back with a bang. The making of this bumping noise when I go to bed is my habit
from my boyhood. "It is a bad habit," once declared a student of a law school who lived
on the ground floor, and I on the second, when I was in the boarding house
[Page 71]
at Ogawa-machi, Kanda-ku, and who brought complaints to my room in person. Students
of law schools, weaklings as they are, have double the ability of ordinary persons when it
comes to talking. As this student of law dwelt long on absurd accusations, I downed him
by answering that the noise made when I went to bed was not the fault of my hip, but
that of the house which was not built on a solid base, and that if he had any fuss to make,
make it to the house, not to me. This room for night watch was not on the second floor,
so nobody cared how much I banged. I do not feel well-rested unless I go to bed with the
loudest bang I can make.
"This is bully!" and I straightened out my feet, when something jumped and clung to
them. They felt coarse, and seemed not to be fleas. I was a bit surprised, and shook my
feet inside the blanket two or three times. Instantly the blamed thing increased, --- five or
six of them on my legs, two or three on the thighs, one crushed beneath
[Page 72]
my hip and another clear up to my belly. The shock became greater. Up I jumped, took
off the blanket, and about fifty to sixty grasshoppers flew out. I was more or less uneasy
until I found out what they were, but now I saw they were grasshoppers, they set me on
the war path. "You insignificant grasshoppers, startling a man I See what's coming to you!"
With this I slapped them with my pillow twice or thrice, but the objects being so small,
the effect was out of proportion to the force with which the blows were administered. I

adopted a different plan. In the manner of beating floor-mats with rolled matting at
house-cleaning, I sat up in bed and began beating them with the pillow. Many of them
flew up, by the force of the pillow; some desperately clung on or shot against my nose or
head. I could not very well hit those on my head with the pillow; I grabbed such, and
dashed them on the floor. What was more provoking was that no matter how hard I
dashed them, they landed
[Page 73]
on the mosquito-net where they made a fluffy jerk and remained, far from being dead. At
last, in about half an hour the slaughter of the grasshoppers was ended. I fetched a broom
and swept them out. The janitor came along and asked what was the matter.
"Damn the matter! Where in thunder are the fools who keep grasshoppers in bed! You
The janitor answered by explaining that he did not know anything about it. "You can't I
get away with Did-not-know," and I followed this thundering by throwing away the
broom. The awe-struck janitor shouldered the broom and faded away.
At once I summoned three of the students to my room as the "representatives," and six of
them reported. Six or ten made no difference I rolled up the sleeves of my night-shirt and
fired away.
"What do you mean by putting grasshoppers
[Page 74]
in my bed!"
"Grasshoppers? What are they?" said one in front, in a tone disgustingly quiet. In this
school, not only the principal, but the students as well, were addicted to using twistedround expressions.
"Don't know grasshoppers! You shall see!" To my chagrin, there was none; I had swept
them all out. I called the janitor again and told him to fetch those grasshoppers he had
taken away. The janitor said he had thrown them into the garbage box, but that he would
pick them out again. "Yes, hurry up," I said, and he sped away. After a while he brought
back about ten grasshoppers on a white paper, remarking:
"I'm sorry, Sir. It's dark outside and I can't find out more. I'll find some tomorrow." All
fools here, down to the janitor. I showed one grasshopper to the students.
"This is a grasshopper. What's the matter for as big idiots as you not to know a

[Page 75]
Then the one with a round face sitting on the left saucily shot back:
"A-ah say, that's a locust, a-ah---."
"Shut up. They're the same thing. In the first place, what do you mean by answering your,
teacher 'A-ah say'? Ah-Say or Ah-Sing is a Chink's name!
For this counter-shot, he answered:
"A-ah say and Ah-Sing is different, ---A-ah say." They never got rid of "A-ah say."
"Grasshoppers or locusts, why did you put them into my bed? When I asked you to?"
"Nobody put them in."
"If not, how could they get into the bed?"
"Locusts are fond of warm places and probably they got in there respectfully by
"You fools! Grasshoppers getting into bed respectfully! I should smile at them getting in
there respectfully! Now, what's the reason for doing this mischief? Speak out."
"But there is no way to explain it because we
[Page 76]
didn't do it."
Shrimps! If they were afraid or making a clean breast of their own deed, they should not
have done it at all. They looked defiant, and appeared to insist on their innocence as long
as no evidence was brought tip. I myself did some mischief while in the middle school,
but when the culprit was sought after, I was never so cowardly, not even once, to back
out. What one has done, has been done; what he has not, has not been, ---that's the black
and white of it. I, for one have been game and square, no matter how much mischief if
might have done. If I wished to dodge the punishment, I would not start it. Mischief and
punishment ate bound to, go together. We can enjoy mischief-making with some show of
spirit because it is accompanied by certain consequences. Where does one expect to see
the dastardly spirit which hungers for mischief-making without punishment, in vague?
The fellows who like to borrow money but not pay it back, are
[Page 77]
surely such as these students here after they are graduated. What did these fellows come
to this middle school, for, anyway? They enter a school, tattle round lies, play silly jokes

behind some one by sneaking and cheating and get wrongly swellheaded when they finish
the school thinking they have received an education. A common lot of jackasses they are.
My hatred of talking with these scamps became intense, so I dismissed them by saying:
"If you fellows have nothing to say, let it go at that. You deserve pity for not knowing the
decent from the vulgar after coming, to a middle school."
I am not very decent in my own language or manner, but am sure that my moral standard
is far more decent than that of these gangs. Those six boys filed out leisurely. Outwardly
they appeared more dignified than I their teacher. It was the more repulsive for their calm
behavior. I have no temerity equal to theirs. Then I went to
[Page 78]
bed again, and found the inside of the net full of merry crowds of mosquitoes. I could not
bother myself to burn one by one with a candle flame. So I took the net off the hooks,
folded it the lengthwise, and shook it crossways, up and down the room. One of the rings
of the net, flying round, accidentally hit the back of my hand, the effect of which I did not
soon forget. When I went to bed for the third time, I cooled off a little, but could not
sleep easily. My watch showed it was half past ten. Well, as I thought it over, I realized
myself as having come to a dirty pit. If all teachers of middle schools everywhere have to
handle fellows like these in this school, those teachers have my sympathy. It is wonderful
that teachers never run short. I believe there are many boneheads of extraordinary
patience; but me for something else. In this respect, Kiyo is worthy of admiration. She is
an old woman, with neither education nor social position, but as a human, she does more
to command our respect.
[Page 79]
Until now, I have been a trouble to her without appreciating her goodness but having
come alone to such a far-off country, I now appreciated, for the first time, her kindness. If
she is fond of sasaame of Echigo province, and if I go to Echigo for the purpose of buying
that sweetmeat to let her eat it, she is fully worth that trouble. Kiyo has been praising me
as unselfish and straight, but she is a person of sterling qualities far more than I whom she
praises. I began to feel like meeting her.
While I was thus meditating about Kiyo, all of a sudden, on the floor above my head,
about thirty to forty people, if I guess by the number, started stamping the floor with
bang, bang, bang that well threatened to bang down the floor. This was followed by
proportionately loud whoops. The noise surprised me, and I popped up. The moment I
got up I became aware that the students were starting a rough house to get even with me.
What wrong one has committed, he has to con[Page 80]
fess, or his offence is never atoned for, They are just to ask for themselves what crimes
they have done. It should be proper that they repent their folly after going to bed and to

come and beg me pardon the next morning. Even if they could not go so far as to
apologize, they should have kept quiet. Then what does this racket mean? Were we
keeping hogs in our dormitory?
"This crazy thing got to stop. See what you get!"
I ran out of the room in my night shirt, and flaw upstairs in three and half steps. Then,
strange to say, the thunderous rumbling, of which I was sure of hearing in the act, was
hushed. Not only a whisper but even foot-steps were not heard. This was funny. The
lamp was already blown out and although I could not see what was what in the dark,
nevertheless could tell by instinct whether there was somebody around or not. In the long
corridor running from the east to the west, there was not hiding even a mouse. From
[Page 81]
other end of the corridor the moonlight flooded in and about there it was particularly
light. The scene was somewhat uncanny. I have had the habit from my boyhood of
frequently dreaming and of flying out of bed and of muttering things which nobody
understood, affording everybody a hearty laugh. One night, when I was sixteen or
seventeen, I dreamed that I picked up a diamond, and getting up, demanded of my
brother who was sleeping close to me what he had done with that diamond, The demand
was made with such force that for about three days all in the house chaffed me about the
fatal loss of precious stone, much to my humiliation. Maybe this noise which I heard was
but a dream, although I was sure it was real. I was wondering thus in the middle of the
corridor, when at the further end where it was moonlit, a roar was raised, coming from
about thirty or forty throats, "One, two, three, --- Whee-ee!" The roar had hardly
subsided, when, as before, the stamping of the floor commenced with furious
[Page 82]
rhythm. Ah, it was not a dream, but a real thing!
"Quit making the noise! 'Tis Midnight!"
I shouted to beat the band, and started in their direction. My passage was dark; the
moonlight yonder was only my guide. About twelve feet past, I stambled squarely against
some hard object; ere the "Ouch!" has passed clear up to my head, I was thrown down. I
called all kinds of clods, but could not run. My mind urged me on to hurry up, but my leg
would not obey the command. Growing impatient, I hobbled on one foot, and found both
voice and stamping already ceased and perfectly quiet. Men can be cowards but I never
expected them capable of becoming such dastardly cowards as this. They challenged hogs.
Now the situation having developed to this pretty mess, I would not give it up until I had
dragged them out from hiding and forced them to apologize. With this determination, I
tried to.
[Page 83]

open one of the doors and examine inside, but it would not open. It was locked or held
fast with a pile of tables or something; to my persistent efforts the door stood unyielding.
Then I tried one across the corridor on the northside, but it was also locked. While this
irritating attempt at door-opening was going on, again on the east end of the corridor the
whooping roar and rhythmic stamping of feet were heard. The fools at, both ends were
bent on making a goose of me. I realized this, but then I was at a loss what to, do. I frankly
confess that I have not quite as much tact as dashing spirit. In such a case I am wholly at
the mercy of swaying circumstances without my own way of getting through it.
Nevertheless, I do not expect to play the part of underdog. If I dropped the affair then
and there, it would reflect upon my dignity. It would be mortifying to have them think
that they had one on the Tokyo-kid and that Tokyo-kid was wanting in tenacity. To have
it on record that I had been guyed by
[Page 84]
these insignificant spawn when on night watch, and had to give in to their impudence
because I could not handle them, ---this would be an indelible disgrace on my life. Mark
ye, --- I am descendant of a samurai of the "hatamoto" class. The blood of the "hatamoto"
samurai could be traced to Mitsunaka Tada, who in turn could claim still a nobler
ancestor. I am different from, and nobler than, these manure-smelling louts. The only pity
is that I am rather short of tact; that I do not know what to do in such a case. That is the
trouble. But I would not throw up the sponge; not on your life! I only do not know how
because I am honest. Just think, --- if the honest does not win, what else is therein this
world that will win- If I cannot beat them tonight, I will tomorrow; if not tomorrow, then
the day after tomorrow. If not the day after tomorrow, I will sit down right here, get my
meals from my home until I beat them.
Thus resolved, I squatted in the middle of the
[Page 85]
corridor and waited for the dawn. Myriads of mosquitoes swarmed about me, but I did
not mind them, I felt my leg where I hit it a while ago; it seemed bespattered with
something greasy I thought it was bleeding. Let it bleed all it cares! Meanwhile, exhausted
by these unwonted affairs, I fell asleep. When I awoke, up I jumped with a curse. The
door on my right was half opened, and two students were standing in front of me. The
moment I recovered my senses from the drowsy lull, I grabbed a leg of one of them
nearest to me, and yanked it with all my might. He fell down prone. Look at what you're
getting now! I flew at the other fellow, who was much confused; gave him vigorous
shaking twice or thrice, and he only kept open his bewildering eyes.
"Come up to my room." Evidently they were mollycoddles, for they obeyed my command
without a murmur. The day had become already clear.
[Page 86]
I began questioning those two in my room, but, --- you cannot pound out the leopard's
spots no matter how you may try, --- they seemed determined to push it through by an

insistent declaration of "not guilty," that they would not confess. While this questioning
was going on, the students upstairs came down, one by one, and began congregating in my
room. I noticed all their eyes were swollen from want of sleep.
"Blooming nice faces you got for not sleeping only one night. And you call yourselves
men! Go, wash your face and come back to hear what I've got to tell you."
I hurled this shot at them, but none of them went to wash his face. For about one hour, I
had been talking and back-talking with about fifty students when suddenly Badger put in
his appearance. I heard afterward that the janitor ran to Badger for the purpose of
reporting to him that there was a trouble in the school. What a weak-knee of the janitor
to fetch the principal for so
[Page 87]
trifling an affair as this! No wonder he cannot see better times than a janitor.
The principal listened to my explanation, and also to brief remarks from the students.
"Attend school as usual till further notice. Hurry up with washing your face and breakfast;
there isn't much time left." So the principal let go all the students. Decidedly slow way of
handling, this. If I were the principal, I would expel them right away. It is because the
school accords them such luke-warm treatment that they get "fresh" and start "guying" the
night watch.
He said to me that it must have been trying on my nerves, and that I might be tired, and
also that I need not teach that day. To this I replied:
"No, Sir, no worrying at all. Such things may happen every night, but it would not disturb
me in the least as long as I breathe. I will do the teaching. If I were not able to teach on
account of lack of sleep for only one single night, I would make a rebate of my salary to
the school."
[Page 88]
I do not know now this impressed him, but he gazed at me for a while, and called my
attention to the fact that my face was rather swollen. Indeed I felt it heavy. Besides, it
itched all over. I was sure the mosquitoes must have stung me there to their hearts'
content. I further added:
"My face may be swollen, but I can talk aft fight so I will teach thus scratching my face
with sonic warmth. The principal smiled and remarked, "Well, you have the strength." To
tell the truth, he did not intend remark to be a compliment, but, I think, a sneer.
[Page 89]

"WON'T you go fishing?" asked Red Shirt. He talks in a strangely womanish voice. One
would not be able to tell whether he was a man or a woman. As a man he should talk like
one. Is he not a college graduate? I can talk manlike enough, and am a graduate from a
school of physics at that. It is a shame for a B. A. to have such a squeak.
I answered with the smallest enthusiasm, whereupon he further asked me an impolite
question if I ever did fishing. I told him not much, that I once caught three gibels when I
was a boy, at a fishing game pond at Koume, and that I also caught a carp about eight
inches long, at a similar game at the festival of Bishamon at Kagurazaka; --- the carp, just
as I was coaxing it out of the water, splashed back into it, and when I think of the
incident I feel mortified at the loss even now. Red Shirt stuck out his chin and laughed
[Page 90]
ho." Why could he not laugh just like an ordinary person? "Then you are not well
acquainted with the spirit of the game," he cried. "I'll show you if you like." He seemed
highly elated.
Not for me! I take it this way that generally those who are fond of fishing or shooting
have cruel hearts. Otherwise, there is no reason why they could derive pleasure in
murdering innocent creatures. Surely, fish and birds would prefer living to getting killed.
Except those who make fishing or shooting their calling, it is nonsense for those who are
well off to say that they cannot sleep well unless they seek the lives of fish or birds. This
was the way I looked at the question, but as he was a B. A. and would have a better
command of language when it came to talking, I kept mum, knowing he would beat me
in argument. Red Shirt mistook my silence for my surrender, and began to induce me to
join him right away, saying he would show me some fish and I should come with him if I
was not busy,
[Page 91]
because he and Mr. Yoshikawa were lonesome when alone. Mr. Yoshikawa is the teacher
of drawing "whom I had nicknamed Clown. I don't know what's in the mind of this
Clown, but he was a constant visitor at the house of Red Shirt, and wherever he went,
Clown was sure to be trailing after him. They appeared more like master and servant than
two fellow teachers. As Clown used to follow Red Shirt like a shadow, it would be
natural to see them go off together now, but when those two alone would have been
Well off, why should they invite me, --- this brusque, unaesthetic fellow, --- was hard to
understand. Probably, vain of his fishing ability, he desired to show his skill, but he aimed
at the, wrong mark, if that was his intention, as nothing of, the kind would touch me. I
would not be chagrined if he fishes out two or three tunnies. I am a man myself, and poor
though I may be in the, art, I would hook something if I dropped a line. If I declined his
invitation, Red Shirt would suspect that I re-

[Page 92]
fused not because of my lack of interest in the game but because of my want of skill of
fishing. I weighed the matter thus, and accepted his invitation. After the school, I returned
home and got ready, and having joined Red Shirt and Clown at the station, we three
started to the shore. There was only one boatman to row; the boat was long and narrow, a
kind we do not have in Tokyo. I looked for fishing rods but could find none.
"How can we fish without rods? How are we going to manage it?" I asked Clown and he
told me with the air of a professional fisherman that no rods were needed in the deep-sea
fishing, but only lines. I had better not asked him if I was to be talked down in this way.
The boatman was rowing very slowly, but his skill was something wonderful. We had
already come far out to sea, and on turning back, saw the shore minimized, fading in far
distance. The five-storied pagoda of Tosho Temple appeared
[Page 93]
above the surrounding woods like a needle-point. Yonder stood Aoshima (Blue Island).
Nobody was living on this island which a closer view showed to be covered with stones
and pine trees. No wonder no one could live there. Red Shirt was intently surveying about
and praising the general view as fine. Clown also termed it "an absolutely fine view." I
don't know whether it is so fine as to be absolute, but there was no doubt as to the
exhilarating air. I realized it as the best tonic to be thus blown by the fresh sea breeze
upon a wide expanse of water. I felt hungry.
"Look at that pine; its trunk is straight and spreads its top branches like an umbrella. Isn't
it a Turnersque picture?" said Red Shirt. "Yes, just like Turner's," responded Clown, "Isn't
the way it curves just elegant? Exactly the touch of Turner was, he added with some
show of pride. I didn't know what Turner was, but as I could get along without knowing
it, I kept silent. The
[Page 94]
boat turned to the left with the island on the right. The sea was so perfectly calm as to
tempt one to think he was not on the deep sea. The pleasant occasion was a credit to Red
Shift. As I wished, if possible, to land on the island, I asked the boatman if our boat could
not be made to it. Upon this Red Shirt objected, saying that we could do so but it was not
advisable to go too close the shore for fishing. I kept still for a while. Then Clown made
the unlooked-for proposal that the island be named Turner Island. "That's good. We shall
call it, so hereafter," seconded Red Shirt. If I was included, in that "We," it was something
I least cared for. Aoshima was good enough for me. "By the way, how would it look," said
Clown, "if we place Madonna by Raphael upon that rock? It would make a fine picture."
"Let's quit talking about Madonna, ho, ho, ho" and Red Shirt emitted a spooky laugh.
"That's all right. Nobody's around," remark-

[Page 95]
ed Clown as he glanced at me, and turning his face to other direction significantly, smiled
devilishly. I felt sickened.
As it was none of my business whether it was a Madonna or a kodanna (young master),
they let pose there any old way, but it was vulgar to feign assurance that one's subject is in
no danger of being understood so long as others did not know the subject. Clown claims
himself as a Yedo kid. I thought that the person called Madonna was no other, than a
favorite geisha of Red Shirt. I should smile at the idea of his gazing at his tootsy-wootsy
standing beneath a pine tree. It would be better if Clown would make an oil painting of
the scene and exhibit it for the public.
"This will be about the best place." So saying the boatman stopped rowing the boat and,
dropped an anchor.
"How deep is it?" asked Red Shirt, and was told about six fathoms.
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Hard to fish sea-breams in six fathoms," said Red Shirt as he dropped a line into the water.
The old sport appeared to expect to fetch some bream. Bravo!
"It wouldn't be hard for you. Besides it is calm," Clown fawningly remarked, and he too
dropped a line. The line bad only a tiny bit of lead that looked like a weight. It had no
float. To fish without a float seemed as nearly reasonable as to measure the heat without a
thermometer, which was something impossible for me. So I looked on. They then told me
to start, and asked me if I had any line, I told them I bad more than I could use, but that I
had no float.
"To say that one is unable to fish without a float shows that he is a novice," piped up
"See? When the line touches the bottom, you just manage it with your finger on the edge.
If a fish bites, you could tell in a minute. There it goes," and Red Shirt hastily started
taking out the line. I wondered what he had got, but I saw
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no fish, only the bait was gone. Hal good for you, Gov'nur!
"Wasn't it too bad! I'm sure it was a big one. If you miss that way, with your ability, we
would have to keep a sharper watch to-day. But, say, even if we miss the fish, it's far
better than staring at a float, isn't it? Just like saying he can't ride a bike without a brake."
Clown hag been getting rather gay, and I was almost tempted to swat him, I'm just as
good as they are. The sea isn't leased by Red Shirt, and there might be one obliging bonito

which might get caught by my line. I dropped my line then, and toyed it with my finger
After a while something shook my line with successive jerks. I thought it must be a fish.
Unless it was something living, it would not give that tremulous shaking. Good! I have it,
and I commenced drawing in the line, while Clown jibed me "What? Caught one already?
Very remarkable, indeed!" I had drawn in nearly all
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the line, leaving only about five feet in the water. I peeped over and saw a fish that looked
like a gold fish with stripes was coming up swimming to right and left. It was interesting.
On taking it out of the water, it wriggled and jumped, and covered my face with water.
After some effort, I had it and tried to detach the hook, but it would not come out easily.
My hands became greasy and the sense was anything but pleasing. I was irritated; I swung
the line and banged the fish against the bottom of the boat. It speedily died. Red Shirt and
Clown watched me with surprise. I washed my hands in the water but they still smelled
"fishy." No more for me! I don't care what fish I might get, I don't want to grab a fish.
And I presume the fish doesn't want to be grabbed either. I hastily rolled up the line.
"Splendid for the first honor, but that's goruki," Clown again made a "fresh" remark.
"Goruki sounds like the name of a Russian literator," said Red Shirt. "Yes, just like a
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Russian leterator," Clown at once seconded Red Shirt. Gorky for a Russian literator,
Maruki a photographer of Shibaku, and komeno-naruki (rice) a life-giver, eh? This Red
Shirt has a bad hobby of marshalling before anybody the name of foreigners. Everybody
has his specialty. How could a teacher of mathematics like me tell whether it is a Gorky
or shariki (rikishaman). Red Shirt should have been a little more considerate. And if he
wants to mention such names at all, let him mention "Autobiography of Ben Franklin" or
"Pushing to the Front," or something we all know. Red Shirt has been seen once in awhile,
bringing a magazine with a red cover entitled Imperial Literature to the school and poring
over it with reverence. I heard it from Porcupine that Red Shirt gets his supply of all
foreign names from that magazine. Well, I should say!
For some time, Red Shirt and Clown fished assiduously and within about an hour they
caught about fifteen fish. The funny part of it was that
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all they caught were goruki; of sea-bream there was not a sign.
"This is a day of bumper crop of Russian literature," Red Shirt said, and Clown answered:

"When one as skilled as you gets nothing but goruki, it's natural for me to get nothing
The boatman told me that this small-sized fish goruki has too many tiny bone and tastes
too poor to be fit for eating, but they could be used for fertilising. So Red Shirt and Clown
were fishing fertilisers with vim and vigor. As for me, one goruki was enough and I laid
down myself on the bottom, and looked up at the sky. This was far more dandy than
Then the two began whispering. I could not hear well, nor did I care to. I was looking tip
at the sky and thinking about Kiyo. If I had enough of money, I thought, and came with
Kiyo to such a picturesque place, how joyous it would be. No matter how picturesque
the scene might be, it would be flat in the company of Clown or of
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his kind. Kiyo is a poor wrinkle woman, but I am not ashamed to take her to any old
place. Clown or his likes, even in a Victoria or a yacht, or in a sky-high position, would
not be worthy to come within her shadow. If I were the head teacher, and Red Shirt I,
Clown would be sure to fawn on me and jeer at Red Shirt. They say Yedo kids are
flippant. Indeed, if a fellaw like Clown was to travel the country and repeatedly declare "I
am a Yedo kid," no wonder the country folk would decide that the flippant are Yedo Kids
and Yedo kids are flippant While I was meditating like this, I heard suppressed laughter.
Between their laughs they talked something, but I could not make out what they were
talking about. "Eh? I don't know........That's true…..he doesn't know…..isn't it pity,
though…." "Can that be….." "With grasshoppers ...... that's a fact."
I did not listen to what they were talking, but when I heard Clown say "grasshoppers," I
[Page 102]
cocked my ear instinct ear instinctively. Clown empahsised, for what reason I do not
know, the word "grasshoppers" so that it would be sure to reach my ear plainly, and he
blurred the rest on purpose. I did not move, and kept on listening. "That same old Hotta,"
"that may be the case….." "Tempura…..ha, ha, ha…." "…..incited….." "…...dango also?…."
The words were thus choppy, but judging by their saying "grasshoppers," "tempura" or
"dango," I was sure they were secretly talking something about me. If they wanted to talk,
they should do it louder. If they wanted to discuss something secret, why in thunder did
they invite me? What damnable blokes I Grasshoppers or glass-stoppers, I was not in the
wrong; I have kept quiet to save the face of Badger because the principal asked me to
leave the matter to him. Clown has been making unnecessary criticisms; out with your old
paint-brushes there! Whatever concerns me, I will settle it myself sooner or
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later, and they had just to keep off my toes. But remarks such as "the same old Hotta" or
"......incited…." worried me a bit. I could not make out whether they meant that Hotta

incited me to extend the circle of the trouble, or that he incited the students to get at me.
As I gazed at the blue sky, the sunlight gradually waned and chilly winds commenced
stirring. The clouds that resembled the streaky smokes of joss sticks were slowly
extending over a clear sky, and by degrees they were absorbed, melted and changed to a
faint fog.
"Well, let's be going,' said Red Shirt suddenly. "Yes, this is the time we were going. See
your Madonna to-night?" responded Clown.
"Cut out nonsense might mean a serious trouble," said Red Shirt who was reclining against
the edge of the boat, now raising himself. "O, that's all right if he hears…..," and when
Clown, so saying, turned himself my way, I glared squarely in his face. Clown turned back
as if
[Page 104]
to keep away from a dazzling light, and with "Ha, this is going some," shrugged his
shoulders and scratched his head.
The boat was now being rowed shore-ward over the calm sea. "You don't seem much
fond of fishing," asked Red Shirt. "No, I'd rather prefer lying and looking at the sky," I
answered, and threw the stub of cigarette I had been smoking into the water; it sizzled
and floated on the waves parted by the oar.
"The students are all glad because you have come. So we want you do your best." Red
Shirt this time started something quite alien to fishing. "I don't think they are," I said.
"Yes; I don't mean it as flattery. They are, sure. Isn't it so, Mr. Yoshikawa?"
"I should say they are. They're crazy over it," said Clown with an unctuous smile. Strange
that whatever Clown says, it makes me itching mad. "But, if you don't look cut, there is
danger," warned Red Shirt.
[Page 105]
"I am fully prepared for all dangers," I replied In fact, I had made up my mind either to
get fired or to make all the students in the dormitory apologize to me.
"If you tall, that way, that cuts everything out. Really, as a head teacher, I've been
considering what is good for you, and wouldn't like you to mistake it."
"The head teacher is really your friend. And I'm doing what I can for you, though might
little, because you and I are Yedo kids, and I would like to have you stay with us as long
as possible and we can help each other." So said Clown and it sounded almost human. I
would sooner hang myself than to get helped by Clown.

"And the students are all glad because you had come, but there arc many circumstances,"
continued Red Shirt. You may feel angry sometimes but be patient for the present, and I
will never do anything to hurt your interests,"
"You say 'many circumstances'; what are
[Page 106]
"They're rather complicated. Well, they'll be clear to you by and by. You'll understand
them naturally without my talking them over. What do you say, Mr. Yoshikawa?"
Yes, they're pretty complicated; hard to get them cleared up in a jiffy. But they'll become
clear by-the-bye. Will be understood naturally without my explaining them," Clown
echoed Red Shirt.
If they're such a bother, I don't t mind not hearing them. I only asked you because you
sprang the subject."
"That's right. I may seem irresponsible in not concluding the thing I had started. Then this
much I'll tell you. I mean no offense, but you are fresh from school, and teaching is a new
experience. And a school is a place where somewhat complicated private circumstances
are common and one cannot do everything straight and simple."
[Page 107]
"If can't get it through straight and simple, how does it go?"
Well, there you are so straight as that. As I was saying, you're short of experience ..........."
"I should be. As I wrote it down in my record-sheet, I'm 23 years and four months."
"That's it. So you'd be done by some one in unexpected quarter."
"I'm not afraid who might do me as long as I'm honest."
"Certainly not. No need be afraid, but I do say you look sharp; your predecessor was
I noticed Clown had become quiet, and turning round, saw him at the stern talking with
the boatman. Without Clown, I found our conversation running smoothly.
"By whom was my predecessor done?"

"If I point out the name, it would reflect on the honor of that person, so I can't mention
it. Besides there is no evidence to prove it and I may be in a bad fix if I say it. At any rate,
[Page 108]
you're here, my efforts will prove nothing if you fail. Keep a sharp lookout, please."
"You say lookout, but I can't be more watchful than I'm now. If I don't do anything
wrong, after all, that's all right, isn't it?"
Red Shirt laughed. I did not remember having said anything provocative of laughter. Up to
this very minute, I have been firm in my coviction that I'm right. When I come to
consider the situation, it appears that a majority of people are encouraging others to
become bad. They seem to believe that one must do wrong in order to succeed If they
happen to see some one honest and pure, they sneer at him as "Master Darling" or
"kiddy." What's the use then of the instructors of ethics at grammar schools or middle
schools teaching children not to tell a lie or to be honest. Better rather make a bold
departure and teach at schools the gentle art of lying or the trick of distrusting others, or
show pupils how to do others. That would be beneficial for the person thus
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taught and for the public as well. When Red Shirt laughed, he laughed at my simplicity.
My word! what chances have the simple-hearted or the pure in a society where they are
made objects of contempt! Kiyo would never laugh at such a time; she would listen with
profound respect. Kiyo is far superior to Red Shirt.
Of course, that't all right as long as you don't do anything wrong. But although you may
not do anything wrong, they will do you just the same unless you can see the wrong of
others. There are fellows you have got to watch, --- the fellows who may appear off-hand,
simple and so kind as to get boarding house for you…..Getting rather cold. 'Tis already
autumn, isn