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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Other literary pastimes were incense comparing


literary pastimes were: "incense-comparing," a combination of poetical dilletantism and skill in recognizing the fragrance of different kinds of incense burned separately or in different combinations; supplying famous stanzas of which only a word or so was given; making riddles in verse; writing verse or drawing pictures on fans,--testing literary and artistic skill; and making up lists of related ideographs. The love of flowers was carried to extravagant lengths. The camera Court in particular organized magnificent picnics to see the cherry-trees of Hosho-ji and the snowy forest at Koya. There were spring festivals of sunrise at Sagano and autumn moonlight excursions to the Oi River. The taste of the time was typified in such vagaries as covering trees with artificial flowers in winter and in piling up snow so that some traces of snowy landscapes might still be seen in spring or summer. Such excess reminds the student of decadent Rome as portrayed by the great Latin satirists.

Other favorite amusements at Court were: gathering sweet-flag in summer and comparing the length of its roots, hawking, fan-lotteries, a kind of backgammon called sugoroku, and different forms of gambling. Football was played, a Chinese game in which the winner was he who kicked the ball highest and kept it longest from touching the ground.

Another rage was keeping animals as pets, especially cats and dogs, which received human names

and official titles and, when they died, elaborate funerals. Kittens born at the palace at the close of the tenth century were treated with consideration comparable to that bestowed on Imperial infants. To the cat-mother the courtiers sent the ceremonial presents after childbirth, and one of the ladies-in-waiting was honoured by an appointment as guardian to the young kittens.

ENGRAVING: SKETCH OF "SHINDENZUKUBI" (Style of Dwelling House of Nobles in the Heian Epoch)


With the growth of luxury in the Heian epoch and the increase of extravagant entertainment and amusement, there was a remarkable development of music and the dance. Besides the six-stringed harp or wagon, much more complex harps or lutes of thirteen or twenty-five strings were used, and in general there was a great increase in the number and variety of instruments. Indeed, we may list as many as twenty kinds of musical instruments and three or four times as many varieties of dance in the Heian epoch. Most of the dances were foreign in their origin, some being Hindu, more Korean, and still more Chinese, according to the usual classification. But imported dances, adaptations of foreign dances, and the older native styles were all more or less pantomimic.


Except in the new capital city with its formal plan there were no great innovations in architecture. Parks around large houses and willows and cherry-trees planted along the streets of Kyoto relieved this stiffness of the great city. Landscape-gardening became an art. Gardens were laid out in front of the row of buildings that made up the home of each noble or Court official.

Convention was nearly as rigid here as it was in Court etiquette. In the centre of this formal garden was a miniature lake with bridges leading to an island; there

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