Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
mats of woven grass. Temples
I visited many of their beautiful temples, and some of them are perfectly magnificent, and there are any number of them. In one town alone, in Kyoto, there are over 900.
They generally have a very handsome gateway with two awful-looking statues guarding it. Inside there is a large courtyard with handsome stone or bronze lanterns, and then the main temple, a big hall surrounded by a verandah and full of rich ornaments, and an altar with golden images of their gods upon it.
The temple itself is all built of solid timber richly carved, gilded, and lacquered inside and out.
Lacquer is varnish made from the gum from pine trees, coloured and carefully laid on, one coating after another, till it forms a thick, hard, smooth surface like marble. You see at home Japanese trays and saucers made of it, sometimes black, sometimes red, and even these small articles are expensive, so you can imagine the value of some of those temples which are lacquered all over, inside and out.
The roofs of the temples are highly ornamented with overhanging eaves, and have their corners curved upwards and richly coloured and gilded.
The wonderful work put into these temples shows the Japanese to be very good at handicrafts of every description-carpenters, embroiderers, carvers, painters, and so on. And they all seem to be at work. I never saw an idler or a loafer, nor even a beggar. Even the boys seemed to be at work, leaving it to the small kids to play about the streets.
Then they are a very polite people, and always smile and bow to friends or to strangers who speak to them, and do their best to help them in every way.
This bravery and politeness which they practise is called Bushido or chivalry, and it has been handed down, just as our chivalry has, from their knights or Samurai, and every Japanese boy knows the doings of their great Samurai better than our boys know the doings of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, or of the knights in “Ivanhoe.”
And they carry their chivalry into practice, just as the Boy Scouts do every day.
But in one respect the Scouts do better; for it is a strange thing that the Japanese, like all Eastern nations, did not honour their women very much, and in their chivalry, though they are brave and self-sacrificing for their country, they did not show any special politeness or consideration to women as we do. This is being changed now.
Their bravery, of course, is known all the world over, and has made them admired by every nation.
Count Nogi, the Great Japanese General
Hara-kiri, the killing of oneself from a sense of duty, is a custom amongst, men of the highest rank of the Japanese.
Count Nogi considered that his highest duty was to his Emperor, and it was to prove this that he put an end to his life when his master, the Emperor, died.
Every Boy Scout will have heard with sorrow of the death of this great Japanese General, because they probably remember the great interest which he took in boys in general, and Boy Scouts in particular.