By J M W Silver

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Example text

This arrangement, however, is more for convenience than in compliance with the demands of modesty as is evidenced by the fact that a male attendant is supplying water; and that his presence is plainly a matter of perfect indifference to the women bathing, with their children, in his immediate vicinity. But it is in the common bath-room where this extraordinary feature of Japanese life unmistakeably presents itself. There men, women and children, perform their ablutions together, with all the apparent innocency of our first parents.

It is also considered to be an emblem of sanctity, and the bonzes, or priests, always keep their heads clean-shaved. Even children intended for the priesthood, as well as certain religious societies of both sexes, are similarly distinguished. Odder-looking creatures than these bald-headed specimens of humanity can hardly be imagined. [Illustration: Itinerant Sweetmeat Vendor. )] The itinerant sweetmeat vendor shown in the woodcut is a specimen of the class of Japanese most prone to superstition.

Illustration: Tea-house Girl waiting. )] The numerous and pleasant tea-houses that skirt the Tokaido have a great deal to do with rendering travelling popular, A smiling welcome from the pretty waitresses employed at these places may always be anticipated by the weary wayfarers; and, however slight their requirements may be, they are certain to be promptly and courteously attended to. If the means of travellers do not permit them to resort to the tea-houses, there are sheds and stalls at intervals along the road, where they can obtain fruit or refreshments at a trifling cost.

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Sketches of Japanese manners and customs by J M W Silver


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