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Noto: an Unexplained Corner of Japan   By: (1855-1916)

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Scanned and typed by Eric Hutton (bookman@rmplc.co.uk)

Noto, an unexplored corner of Japan

by Percival Lowell

From you, my dear Basil, the confidant of my hopes toward Noto, I know I may look for sympathy now that my advances have met with such happy issue, however incomplete be my account. And so I ask you to be my best man in the matter before the world.

Ever yours, Percival Lowell.

Basil Hall Chamberlain, Esq.

Contents.

I. An Unknown. II. Off and On. III. The Usui Pass. IV. Zenkoji. V. No. VI. On a New Cornice Road. VII. Oya Shiradzu, Ko Shiradzu. VIII. Across the Etchiu Delta. IX. Over the Arayama Pass. X. An Inland Sea. XI. Anamidzu. XII. At Sea Again. XIII. On the Noto Highway. XIV. The Harinoki Toge. XV. Toward the Pass. XVI. Riuzanjita. XVII. Over the Snow. XVIII. A Genial Inkyo. XIX. Our Passport and the Basha. XX. Down the Tenriugawa. XXI. To the Sea.

NOTO: an unexplored corner of Japan.

I. An Unknown.

The fancy took me to go to Noto.

It seemed a strange fancy to my friends.

Yet I make no apology for it; for it was a case of love at first sight.

Scanning, one evening, in Tokyo, the map of Japan, in a vague, itinerary way, with the look one first gives to the crowd of faces in a ballroom, my eye was caught by the pose of a province that stood out in graphic mystery from the western coast. It made a striking figure there, with its deep bosomed bays and its bold headlands. Its name, it appeared, was Noto; and the name too pleased me. I liked its vowel color; I liked its consonant form, the liquid n and the decisive t. Whimsically, if you please, it suggested both womanliness and will. The more I looked the more I longed, until the desire carried me not simply off my feet, but on to them.

Nobody seemed to know much about my inamorata. Indeed, those I asked asked me, in their own want of information, why I went, and what there was to see: of which questions, the second itself did for answer to the first. Why not in fact have set my heart on going to Noto just because it was not known! Not that it is well to believe all the unseen to be much worth the seeing, but that I had an itching sole to tread what others had not already effacingly betrodden.

Privately, I was delighted with the general lack of knowledge on the subject. It served admirably to put me in conceit with my choice; although I will own I was rather at a loss to account for it, and I can only explain it now by the fact that the place was so out of the way, and not very unlike others, after all. Being thus candid, I ought perhaps to go a step farther and renounce the name. But, on the two great principles that the pursuit is itself the prize and that the means justifies the end, I prefer to keep it. For there was much of interest to me by the way; and I cling to the name out of a kind of loyalty to my own fancy. I like to think that Xenophon felt as much in his Anabasis, though but one book out of seven deals with the going up, the other six being occupied with the getting safely away again. It is not told that Xenophon regretted his adventure. Certainly I am not sorry I was wedded to my idea.

To most of my acquaintance Noto was scarcely so much as a name, and its local habitation was purely cartographic. I found but one man who had been there, and he had dropped down upon it, by way of harbor, from a boat. Some sympathetic souls, however, went so far toward it as to ask where it was.

To the westward of Tokyo, so far west that the setting sun no longer seems to lose itself among the mountains, but plunges for good and all straight into the shining Nirvana of the sea, a strangely shaped promontory makes out from the land. It is the province of Noto, standing alone in peninsular isolation.

It was partly in this position that the fascination lay. Withdrawn from its fellows, with its back to the land, it faced the glory of the western sky, as if in virginal vision gazing out upon the deep... Continue reading book >>




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