Thursday, July 6, 2017


(From The Romance of the Milky Way, by Lafacadio Hearn)

Of old it was said: 'The River of Heaven is the Ghost of
Waters.' We behold it shifting its bed in the course of the
year as an earthly river sometimes does.

—Ancient Scholar

Among the many charming festivals celebrated by Old Japan, the most
romantic was the festival of Tanabata-sama, the Weaving-Lady of the
Milky Way. In the chief cities her holiday is now little observed; and
in Tokyo it is almost forgotten. But in many country districts,
and even in villages, near the capital, it is still celebrated in a
small way. If you happen to visit an old-fashioned country town or
village, on the seventh day of the seventh month (by the ancient
calendar), you will probably notice many freshly-cut bamboos fixed
upon the roofs of the houses, or planted in the ground beside them,
every bamboo having attached to it a number of strips of colored
paper. In some very poor villages you might find that these papers are
white, or of one color only; but the general rule is that the papers
should be of five or seven different colors. Blue, green, red, yellow,
and white are the tints commonly displayed. All these papers are
inscribed with short poems written in praise of Tanabata and her
husband Hikoboshi. After the festival the bamboos are taken down and
thrown into the nearest stream, together with the poems attached to

To understand the romance of this old festival, you must know the
legend of those astral divinities to whom offerings used to be made,
even by, the Imperial Household, on the seventh day of the seventh
month. The legend is Chinese. This is the Japanese popular version of

The great god of the firmament had a lovely daughter, Tanabata-tsumé,
who passed her days in weaving garments for her august parent. She
rejoiced in her work, and thought that there was no greater pleasure
than the pleasure of weaving. But one day, as she sat before her loom
at the door of her heavenly dwelling, she saw a handsome peasant lad
pass by, leading an ox, and she fell in love with him. Her august
father, divining her secret wish, gave her the youth for a husband.
But the wedded lovers became too fond of each other, and neglected
their duty to the god of the firmament; the sound of the shuttle was
no longer heard, and the ox wandered, unheeded, over the plains of
heaven. Therefore the great god was displeased, and he separated the
pair. They were sentenced to live thereafter apart, with the Celestial
River between them; but it was permitted them to see each other once
a year, on the seventh night of the seventh moon. On that
night--providing the skies be clear--the birds of heaven make, with
their bodies and wings, a bridge over the stream; and by means of that
bridge the lovers can meet. But if there be rain, the River of Heaven
rises, and becomes so wide that the bridge cannot be formed. So the
husband and wife cannot always meet, even on the seventh night of
the seventh month; it may happen, by reason of bad weather, that they
cannot meet for three or four years at a time. But their love remains
immortally young and eternally patient; and they continue to fulfill
their respective duties each day without fault,--happy in their hope
of being able to meet on the seventh night of the next seventh month.

©Copyright 2017 by Hayato Tokugawa, the Kitty Mafia Art Worx™, and Catman Comix™. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


(An Extract from "The Hearn Exprience")

From a letter from Lafcadio Hearn to Basil Hall Chamberlain dated January 23, 1893:

I do not know your method, and everybody has his own. But I think I know your difficulty — that it is also my own in Japan. Composition becomes difficult only when it becomes work — that is literary labor without a strong inspirational impulse or an emotional feeling behind it. Now, in Japan, after the first experiences are over — I can’t imagine anybody having either an inspiration or a strong emotion. The atmosphere is soporific, gray, without electricity. Therefore, work has to be forced. I never write without painfully forcing myself to do it.
Now there are two ways of forced work. The first is to force thought by concentration. This is fatiguing beyond all expression — and I think injurious. I can’t do it. The second way is to force the work only, and let the thought develop itself. This is much less fatiguing, and gives far better results — sometimes surprising results that are mistaken for inspiration.
I go to work in this way. The subject is in front of me; I can’t bother even thinking about it. That would tire me too much. I simply arrange the notes and write down whatever part of the subject most pleases me first. I write hurriedly without care. Then I put the MS aside for a day, and do something else more agreeable. Next day, I read over the pages written, correct, and write them all over again. In the course of doing this, quite mechanically, new thoughts come up, errors make themselves felt, improvements are suggested. I stop. Next day, I rewrite the third time. This is the test time. The result is a great improvement usually — but not perfection. I then take clean paper, and begin to make the final copy. Usually this has to be done twice. In the course of four to five re-writings, the whole thought reshapes itself, and the whole style is changed and fixed. The work has done itself, developed, grown; it would have been very different had I trusted to the first thought. But I let the thought define and crystallize itself.
Perhaps you will say this is too much trouble. I used to think so. But the result is amazing. The average is five perfect pages a day, with about two or three hours work. By the other method one or two pages a day are extremely difficult to write. Indeed I do not think I could write one perfect page a day, by thinking out everything as I write. The mental strain is too much. The fancy is like a horse that goes well without whip or spur, and refuses duty if either is used. By petting it and leaving it free, it surpasses desire. I know when the page is fixed by a sort of focusing it takes — when the first impression has returned after all corrections more forcibly than at first felt, and in half the space first occupied. Perhaps you have done all this in prose, as you must have done it in other work; but if you have not, you will be astonished at the relief it gives. My whole book was written thus. Of course it looks like big labor to rewrite every page half a dozen times. But in reality, it is the least possible labor. To those with whom writing is almost an automatic exertion, the absolute fatigue is no more than that of writing a letter. The rest of the work does itself, without your effort. It is like spiritualism. Just move the pen and the ghosts do the wording, etc. I am writing this only as a letter to you. It makes so many pages. If I were writing it for print, I would rewrite it at least five times — with the result of putting the same thoughts much more forcibly in half the space. Then again, I keep the thing going like a conjurer’s balls. The first day’s five pages are recopied the second, and another five written — the third day the first five are again recopied, and another five written. There is always matter ahead, though, I never recopy more than the first five, at one time. When these are finished, then I begin the second five. The average is five per day, 150 pages per month. Another important thing is to take the most agreeable part of the subject first. Order is of no earthly consequence, but a great hindrance. The success of this part gives encouragement, and curiously develops the idea of the relative parts.

Well, perhaps, I have been telling you something you know more about than I; but comparing notes is always good, and often a help.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017



Who was Lafcadio Hearn’s favorite author? It’s rather hard to say really. Certainly he was a fan of the French romantic and decadent writers such as Théophile Gautier[i] and Pierre Loti[ii] but he was an avid reader of many genres and authors. I can tell you that he was very fond indeed of Rudyard Kipling as evidenced in this letter to Basil Hall Chamberlain, dated February 12, 1892:

I have never read Valera — indeed, until you wrote about him, I had imagined the name to be a French pseudonym for one who wanted to call attention to his stories of Spanish life. (You know he is much read in the French version — at least I often saw notices of his books in French papers; but I thought they were books by a Frenchman.) But, speaking of books, if you have not read Rudyard Kipling at his best, I think you will have a treat in Life’s Handicap, especially. There is a prodigious compressed force in the man’s style that reminds me at times of the style of the Norse writers like Björnson. A great test of a book is, can you read it twice — perhaps not even Maupassant, though so wondrous a story-teller is Maupassant. But you can read the short stories of Life’s Handicap[iii] several times over, always with the same charm. I can also recommend Wee Willie Winkie, The Gatsbys, Soldiers Three, Under the Deodars, Plain Tales from the Hills, The Light that Failed. The Macmillan editions are much fuller and finer than the Indian prints.

 As well as in this letter from Kumamoto to Chamberlain on December 12, 1892:

I hope Mason [a friend of Hearn’s who owned the Grand Hotel inYokohama] has preserved for you the pretty lines of Rudyard Kipling about the Daibutsu at Kamakura. I enjoy him — not the poetry of the effort but the prose of it. It is delicious. Alas! I had written my complacent stuff about the Daibutsu long ago — long before. Would that I could atone for it now! But then Kipling is a giant in all things compared to me. Read the Queen’s words on pp 250-1-2 of the “Naulahka.”[iv] I think they will bring tears. Immense force without the least appearance of an attempt or wish to effect. I despair when I read that man’s work.
“Calm as a deep still water,” says an ancient sutra of the Teacher. And there at Kamakura he is even so — deep, still, and luminous as the ether…To lie about the beautiful is to lie about the Infinite Goodness and the heart of life — and there is forgiveness never for this sin.
But I won’t tire you any more now.
Ever must truly,
                       Lafcadio Hearn

[i] Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier (August 30, 1811 – October 23, 1872) was a French dramatist, journalist, literary critic, novelist, and poet. He was a passionate defender of Romanticism; however, his own work, although difficult to classify, was frequently referenced by such other literary traditions as Symbolism, Decadence, and Modernism. Such writers as Balzac, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Proust, and Oscar Wilde held him in high esteem.
[ii] Pierre Loti was a pseudonym of Julien Viauld (January 24, 1850 – June 10, 1923), a French naval officer and novelist. In 1885, while serving in Southeast Asia, he visited Japan and subsequently wrote a novel on Japanese manners, Madame Chrysanthéme, which was a fore- runner of Madame Butterfly and Miss Saigon. He was regarded as one of the finest descriptive writers of his day.
[iii] Life's Handicap, Being Stories of Mine Own People was published in 1891. Most of the stories had previously appeared in periodicals.
[iv] [The] Naulakha is the title of a book book Kipling  wrote with Wolcott Balestier, his good friend and Mrs. Kipling’s brother, about a precious Indian jewel. Naulakha is also a historic Shingle Style house on Kipling Road in Dummerston, Vermont, a few miles outside Brattleboro. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 for its association with the author Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), who had it built in 1893 and made it his home until 1896. It is in this house that Kipling wrote Captains Courageous, The Jungle Book, The Day's Work, and The Seven Seas, and did work on Kim and The Just So Stories. Kipling named the house after the Naulakha Pavilion, situated inside Lahore Fort in Pakistan. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017




Recently the name Inazo Nitobé came up in a discussion as well as his famous book “Bushido: The Soul of Japan. His book, published in 1900, is a source not only of information about Japanese history and culture and also a source of controversy, despite it’s almost cult following by many students of Japanese history and martial arts. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a review of his book, from March 1, 1900 which appeared in “City and State” a Philadelphia literary weekly.

Bushido: The Soul of Japan, Inazo Nitobé.
Leeds & Bidle, Philadelphia. Leatherette, 75 cents.

Pierre Loti[i] and John Luther Long[ii] would have us believe that Japanese life and ideals are of the most trivial and unstable character, full of an evanescent charm, but as unreliable as a butterfly or a chrysanthemum. The reports of travelers are at variance, and the consequent confusion of facts makes Dr. Nitobé’s book a useful one to the person who wishes really to understand Japanese ideals. Bushido is the Japanese word for chivalry, and means precepts of knighthood. Dr. Nitobé tells us what these precepts are, and how they affect the moral life of his countrymen. He has answered all the questions which puzzle the foreigner, and has compared each custom explained to some Western custom or way of thinking, and in doing this has made his own position perfectly clear. It is astonishing to see the amount of misconception which a reading of “Bushido” will sweep away.

Dr. Nitobé says in his preface: “Between Lafcadio Hearn and Mrs. Hugh Frazer[iii] on one side, and Sir Earnest Satow[iv] and Professor Chamberlain[v] on the other, it is indeed discouraging to write anything Japanese in English. The only advantage I have over them is that I can assume the attitude of a personal defendant…I have often thought ‘Had I their gift of language, I would present the cause of Japan in more eloquent terms.’ But one who speaks in a borrowed tongue should be thankful to if he can make himself intelligible.”

This preface naturally prepares us for perverted idioms and obscurities, but after a careful reading of “Bushido,” one cannot help but marvel at the ease with which Dr. Nitobé uses English and at his large acquaintance with our literature. It is one thing, as we all know, to be able to read many books, but it is quite a different thing to be able to select the quotation which will aptly express or reinforce our thought. Few writers of the present day are, like Dr. Nitobé, authors of works in two languages besides their own.

[i] Pierre Loti was a pseudonym of Julien Viauld (January 24, 1850 – June 10, 1923), a French naval officer and novelist. In 1885, while serving in Southeast Asia, he visited Japan and subsequently wrote a novel on Japanese manners, Madame Chrysanthéme, which was a forerunner of Madame Butterfly and Miss Saigon. He was regarded as one of the finest descriptive writers of his day.
[ii] John Luther Long (January 1, 1861 – October 31, 1927) was an American lawyer and writer best known for his short story “Madame Butterfly”, which was based on the recollections of his sister, Jennie Correll, who had been to Japan with her husband—a Methodist missionary
[iii] Mary Crawford Fraser (April 8, 1851 – 1922), usually known as Mrs. Hugh Fraser, was a writer noted for her various memoirs and historical novels. As the wife of British diplomat Hugh Fraser, whom she married in 1874, she followed her husband to his postings in Peking, Vienna, Rome, Santiago, and Tokyo. In 1889, her husband Hugh Fraser was posted to Japan as “Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary” (head of the British Legation) to Japan — a diplomatic ranking just below that of full Ambassador, before the establishment of full and equal relations between Britain and Japan which Fraser was, in fact, negotiating. A month before the signing of the final treaty, her husband died suddenly in 1894, leaving her a widow after twenty years of marriage. Still under her married name of Mrs. Hugh Fraser, she was the author of Palladia (1896), The Looms of Time (1898), The Stolen Emperor (1904), The Satanist (1912, with J. I. Stahlmann, the pseudonym of one of her sons, John Crawford Fraser).
[iv] Sir Ernest Mason Satow, GCMG, PC (30 June 1843 – 26 August 1929), was a British scholar, diplomat and Japanologist.
[v] Basil Hall Chamberlain (October 18, 1850 – February 15, 1935) was a professor at Tokyō Imperial University and the foremost British Japanologist present in Japan during the late 19th century. He was also, for many years, one of Lafcadio Hearn’s closest Western friends and confidants. He wrote some of the first translations of haiku into English, as well as the first English translation of the Kojiki, the oldest existing chronicle of ancient Japan, dating from the early 8th century. Chamberlain is best remembered for his popular encyclopedic work, Things Japanese (1890).
He arrived in Japan on May 29, 1873 and taught at the Imperial Naval School in Tokyō from 1874 through 1882. His most prestigious position however, was as Professor of Japanese at Tokyō Imperial University, starting in 1886. There he gained his reputation as a student and scholar of Japanese language and literature as well as an authority on the Ainu and Ryukyuan languages of Hokkaidō and Okinawa respectively. Chamberlain’s other works include: The Classical Poetry of the Japanese (1880), A Handbook of Colloquial Japanese (1888), A Practical guide to the Study of Japanese Writing (1905) and (with W. B. Mason) A Handbook for Travelers in Japan.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017



The following story was written by Lafcadio Hearn in 1894 or early in 1895 when he had moved from Kumamoto to Kobé, having taken a position with the Kobé Chronicle as a journalist. He had been unhappy to say the least in Kumamoto, primarily due to bad relationships with his colleagues and an overall dissatisfaction with Kumamoto conventions and customs, which he found to be far more severe and less good-natured than in Matsué or even Tokyō. That is not to say that he didn’t find much to dislike in Kobé as well; indeed, he spent much of his time there writing his book Kokoro, of which this tale as a part, a socio-political look at Meiji Japan, in which he frequently railed against the changes and disintegrations of Meiji, foreigners in general and their regard for Japan and the Japanese people in particular.
In reading this story, while editing Kokoro for a new, annotated and illustrated version, I found it evoking in me some strong emotions (stronger than many emotions that Hearn conjures in me as I read his books) and at once I could more fully understand the taint of the Meiji era, which Hearn had grown to detest so much. I felt strongly that this was a story well-worth sharing as an insight into the not-so-romantic side of Hearn’s Japan; so, I offer it to you now, with a couple of comments at its conclusion.

In the Twilight of the Gods

“Do you know anything about josses?”[1]
“Yes, idols. Japanese idols — josses.”
“Something, “I answered, “but not very much.”
“Well, come and look at my collection, won’t you? I’ve been collecting josses for twenty years, and I’ve got some worth seeing. They’re not for sale though — except to the British Museum.”
I followed the curio dealer through the bric-a-brac of his shop, and across a paved yard into an unusually large “go-down.”[2] Like all go-downs it was dark: I could barely discern a stairway sloping through the gloom. He paused at the foot.
“You’ll be able to see better in a moment,” he said. “I had this place built expressly for them; but now it is scarcely big enough. They’re all in the second story. Go right up; only be careful — the steps are bad.”
I climbed, and reached a sort of twilight, under a very high roof, and found myself face to face with the gods.

In the dusk of the great go-down the spectacle was more than weird: it was apparitional. Arhats[3] and Buddhas[4] and Bohdisattvas,[5] and the shapes of a mythology older than they, filled all the shadowy space; not ranked by hierarchies, as in a temple, but mingled without order, as in a silent panic. Out of the wilderness of multiple heads and broken aureoles and hands uplifted in menace or in prayer — a shimmering confusion of dusty gold half lighted by cobwebbed air holes in the heavy walls — I could at first see little; then, as the dimness cleared, I began to distinguish personalities. I saw Kwannon,[6] of many forms; Jizō[7] of many names; Shaka,[8] Yakushi,[9] Amida,[10] the Buddhas and their disciples. They were very old; and their art was not of Japan, nor of any one place or time: there were shapes from Korea, China, India — treasures brought over sea in the rich days of the early Buddhist missions. Some were seated on lotus flowers — the lotus flowers of Apparitional Birth.[11] Some rode leopards, tigers, lions, or mystical monsters — typifying lightning, typifying death. One, triple-headed and many-handed, sinister and splendid, seemed moving through the gloom on a throne of gold, uplifted b a phalanx of elephants. Fudō[12] I saw, shrouded and shrined in fire, and Maya-Fujin,[13] riding her celestial peacock; and strangely mingling with these Buddhist visions, as in the anachronism of a Limbo, armored effigies of daimyō, and images of the Chinese sages. There were huge forms of wrath, grasping thunderbolts, and rising to the roof: the Deva Kings,[14] like impersonations of hurricane power; the Ni-O, [15] the guardians of long-vanished temple gates. Also there are forms voluptuously feminine: the light grace of the limbs folded within their lotus cups, the suppleness of the fingers numbering the numbers of the Good Law — ideals possibly inspired in some forgotten time by the charm of an Indian dancing girl.

Shelved against the naked brickwork above, I could perceive multitudes of lesser shapes: demon figures with eyes that burned through the dark like the eyes of a black cat, and figures half man, half bird, winged and beaked like eagles — the tengu[16] of Japanese fancy.
“Well?” queried the curio dealer, with a chuckle of satisfaction at my evident surprise.
“It is a very great collection,” I responded.
He clapped his hand on my shoulder, and exclaimed triumphantly in my ear, “Cost me fifty thousand dollars.”

But the images themselves told me how much more was their cost to forgotten piety, notwithstanding the cheapness of artistic labor in the East. Also they told me of the dead millions whose pilgrim feet had worn hollow the steps leading to their shrines, of the buried mothers who used to suspend little baby dresses before their altars, of the generations of children taught to murmur prayers to them, of the countless sorrows and hopes confided to them. Ghosts of the worship of centuries had followed them into exile; a thin, sweet odor of incense haunted the place.
“What would you call that?” asked the voice of the curio dealer. “I’ve been told it’s the best of the lot.”
He pointed to a figure resting on a triple golden lotus — Avalokitesvara: she “who looketh down above the sound of prayer.”…Storms and hate give way to her name. Fire is quenched by her name. Demons vanish at the sound of her name. By her name one may sand firm in the sky, like a sun…The delicacy of the limbs, the tenderness of the smile, were dreams of the Indian paradise.

“It is a Kwannon,” I replied, “and very beautiful.”
“Somebody will have to pay me a very beautiful price for it,” he said, with a shrewd wink. “It cost me enough! As a rule, though, I get these things pretty cheap. There are few people who care to buy them, and they have to be sold privately, you know: that gives me an advantage. See that joss in the corner — the big black fellow? What is it?”
“Emmei-Jizō,” I answered — Jizō, the giver of long life. It must be very old.”
“Well,” he said, again taking me by the shoulder, “the man from whom I got that piece was put in prison for selling it to me.”
Then he burst into a hearty laugh — whether at the recollection of his own cleverness in the transaction, or at the unfortunate simplicity of the person who had sold the statue contrary to the law, I could not decide.
“Afterwards,” he resumed, “they wanted to get it back again, and offered me more than I had given for it. But I held on. I don’t know everything about josses, but I do know what they are worth. There isn’t another idol like that in the whole country. The British Museum will be glad to get it.”
“When do you intend to offer the collection to the British Museum,” I presumed to ask.
“Well, I first want to get up a show,” he replied. “There’s money to be made by a show of josses in London. London people never saw anything like this in their lives. Then the church folks help that sort of show, if you manage them properly: it advertises the missions. ‘Heathen idols from Japan!’…How do you like the baby?”

I was looking at a small gold-colored image of a naked child, standing, one tiny hand pointing upward, and the other downward — representing the Buddha newly born.

Sparkling with light he came from the womb, as when the sun first rises in the east…Upright he took deliberately seven steps; and the prints of his feet on the ground remained burning as seven stars. And he spoke with clearest utterance, saying, “This birth is a Buddha birth. Rebirth is not for me. Only this last time I am born for the salvation of all on earth and in heaven.”

“That is what they call a Tanjō-Shaka,” I said. It looks like bronze.”
“Bronze it is,” he responded, tapping it with his knuckles to make the metal ring. “The bronze alone is worth more than the price I paid.”
 I looked at the four Devas whose heads almost touched the roof, and thought of the story of their apparition told in the Mahavagga.[17]

On a beautiful night the For Great Kings entered the holy grove, filling all the place with light; and having respectfully saluted the Blessed one, they stood in the four directions, like four great firebrands.

“How did you ever manage to get those big figures upstairs,” I asked.
“Oh, hauled them up! We’ve got a hatchway. The real trouble was getting them here by train. It was the first railroad trip they ever made…But look at these here: they will make the sensation of the show!”
I looked, and saw two small wooden images, about three feet high. “Why do you think they will make a sensation?” I inquired innocently.
“Don’t you see what they are? They date from the time of the persecutions. Japanese devils trampling on the cross!
They were small temple guardians only; but their feet rested on X-shaped supports.
“Did any person tell you these were devils trampling on the cross?” I made bold to ask.
“What else are they doing?” he answered evasively. “Look at the crosses under their feet.”
“But they are not devils,” I insisted; “and those cross-pieces were put under their feet simply to give equilibrium.”
He said nothing, but looked disappointed; and I felt a little sorry for him. Devils trampling on the cross, as a display line in some London poster announcing the arrival of “Josses from Japan,” might certainly have been relied on to catch the public eye.


I suppose I expected more directly expressed antagonism or resentment from Hearn at the conclusion of this story; yet, his concluding sarcasm is probably sufficient — I can be angry for both of us. Perhaps he did express his antipathy is some editorial in the Kobé Chronicle or perhaps some letter. I’m searching and if I find such I thing I will share it. That having been said, my thoughts immediately went to three people that the unfeeling, dull-witted curio dealer typifies — robbers and raiders all. The first person that came to mind was William Anderson, F.R.C.S. (December 18, 1842 – October 27, 1900).
In 1873, the Meiji government established the Imperial Naval Medical College in Tokyō and chose Anderson, a surgeon and dermatologist, as Professor of Anatomy. He resided in the English colony in the city where he also served as medical officer to the British envoy in Japan from 1874 through 1879. It was during this time that he began to collect Japanese art. His first collection was destroyed in a fire but he was soon able to replace much of what had been lost. While in Japan, he was able to build a substantial collection of Japanese art, engravings, and etchings, as well as illustrated books on the history and development of Japanese art; purchases made largely from Samurai families who were experiencing poverty for the first time with the disestablishment of the samurai class, and crooked officials of the Meiji government. Subsequently, upon his return to England, he sold his collection to the British Museum, at that time considered the finest collection in Europe. Collect? I rather doubt that he did so with a mind towards a fairness in price or treatment of the seller; nor, any thought to the significance in religious, cultural, or artistic terms of what he was “collecting.” One can little doubt that he made a considerable profit, perhaps several times over.
The second was Avery Brundage (September 28, 1887 – May 8, 1975), the fifth president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), serving from 1952 to 1972. He was also a prodigious “collector” of Asian art, much of which can be found at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
The roots of Brundidge’s interest in Asian art lie in a visit he made to an exhibition of Chinese art at the Royal Academy in London in 1936. He stated about the experience, “We [his first wife Elizabeth and himself] spent a week at the exhibition and I came away so enamored with Chinese art that I've been broke ever since.” That having been said, he did not actively begin “collecting” until he and his wife visited Japan for two weeks in April 1939 where they visited Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Nikko. They followed-up their Japan trip with visits to Shanghai and Hong Kong, but due to the war between Japan and China, they were unable to explore China further.
On his return to the United States after the June 1939 IOC session in London, Brundage systematically set about becoming a major collector of Asian art. The unsettled conditions caused wealthy Chinese and Japanese to sell family heirlooms, and prices were depressed, making it an opportune moment to “collect.” He bought many books on Asian art, stating in an interview that a “major library is an indispensable tool.” After the US entered World War II, art stock owned by Japanese dealers in the United States was impounded; Brundage was able to purchase the best items at a premium. Dealers found him willing to spend money, but knowledgeable and a hard bargainer. Brundage rarely was fooled by forgeries, and was undeterred by the few he did buy, noting that in Asian art, fake pieces were often a thousand years old. In a 1948 article on Brundage for Life, note was made that “his collection is regarded as one of the largest and most important in private hands in this country.”
Brundage engaged the French scholar René-Yvon Lefebvre d'Argencé, then teaching at the University of California, as full-time curator of his collection and advisor on acquisitions. The two men made a deal—no piece would be purchased unless both men agreed. They built a collection of jade which ranged from the Neolithic period to the modern era; and hundreds of Chinese, Japanese and Korean bronzes, mostly Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The painter whom Brundage admired the most was Huizong, 12th-century Chinese emperor of the Song dynasty; but he never was able to obtain any of his work.
Brundage several times bought pieces smuggled out of their lands of origin on the premise that they would be to restore here. Many would testify that when Brundage sold a piece, it was most likely because he no longer favored it artistically, rather than to realize a profit: the subject of great debate in view of a 1954 financial statement prepared for Brundage listed the value of his collection as more than $1 million. In 1960, Robert Shaplen, in his article on Brundage for The New Yorker, noted that Brundage, during his travels as IOC president, always seemed to find time to visit art dealers, and stated that the collection was actually valued at $15 million.
By the late 1950s, Brundage was increasingly concerned about what to do with his collection. Accounts say that his homes in Chicago and California were so overwhelmed with art that priceless artifacts were kept in shoeboxes under beds. In 1959, Brundage agreed to give part of his collection to the City of San Francisco. The following year city voters passed a bond issue of $2,725,000 to house the donation. The result was the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, which opened in 1966 in Golden Gate Park, initially sharing space with the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum before moving to its own facility near the Civic Center in 2003. Brundage made another major donation in 1969 (despite a fire which destroyed many pieces at his California home near Santa Barbara in 1964), and left the remainder of his collection to the museum in his will. Today, the museum has 7,700 pieces from Brundage among the 17,000-plus objects which make up its collection.
And the third “raider” was William Randolph Hearst whose appetite for art as well as his megalomania and greed are legendary. Hearst amassed a considerable collection of Asian art which one can be certain was not acquired with any sense of altruism. Perhaps it was karma, but beginning in 1937, Hearst began selling some of his art collection to help relieve the burden he had suffered from the depression. The first year he sold 11 million dollars’ worth. In 1941 he put an additional 20,000 items (from all over the world) up for sale.
Be that as it may, when viewing museum collections of Asian art, one has to approach such assemblages with a thought (at least) to the prices paid and not paid in acquisition.

 Photos courtesy of Gabi Greve or from my own collection.

© Copyright 2017 by Hayato Tokugawa. All rights reserved.

[1] The term “joss” is Chinese Pidgin English, derived from the Portuguese “deos” (c. 1705) referring to a Chinese deity worshipped in the form of an idol or a Chinese house idol or cult image. Usage would appear to have been more common to Westerners in Asia than Asians, who applied the term not just to Chinese Taoist or Buddhist images but eventually was applied by uneducated or otherwise unsympathetic Westerners to any non-Christian statue found in East Asia and Japan. Later the term made its way even to California along with Cantonese immigrants, where it was applied to Chinese temples, such as the Temple among the Trees Beneath the Clouds (雲林廟) in Weaverville, where it is more commonly known now as the Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park, and various locations in San Francisco's Chinatown.
[2] Author’s Footnote: A name given to fireproof storehouses in the open ports of the Far East. The word is derived from the Malay gûdong.
[3] (In Buddhism and Jainism) someone who has attained the goal of the religious life; people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood.
[4] The word ‘Buddha’ is a title, which means “one who is awake” — in the sense of having “woken up to reality.”
[5] Bodhisattva is a word from Sanskrit meaning “one enlightened in essence.” The word refers to a person who has achieved great moral and spiritual wisdom and is a potential Buddha; especially, such a person who has rejected Nirvâna in order to assist suffering mankind.
[6] Kwannon (観音) or Kannon, is a bodhisattva; one who has achieved enlightenment but postpones Buddhahood until everyone can be saved. In Japan’s Pure Land Buddhism, whose principal deity is Amida, Kwannon, who personifies compassion and mercy, is the more important of Amida’s two main attendants; the other is Seishi Bosatsu.
[7] Jizō is one of the most beloved deities of all Japanese Buddhism, who works to ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those serving time in Purgatory, to deliver the faithful into Amida Buddha’s western paradise, and to answer the prayers of the living for health, success, children, and all manner of petitions. In modern Japan, Jizō is a friend to all, never frightening, even to children, and his many manifestations, often cute, even cartoon-like, incorporate Taoist, Buddhist, and Shintō components.
[8] In Japan the historical Buddha is called Shaka Nyorai (釈迦如来), or Shakyamuni Tathāgata (Shaka in the common shortened form).
[9] Yakushi Nyorai or the Medicine/Healing Buddha.
[10] Amida or Amida Butsu is the central figure of Amida Buddhism or Pure Land Buddhism (浄土教, Jōdokyō).
[11] Apparitional birth is a complex concept of Buddhism, in which sentient beings start up into existence, in an instant, from nothingness: spontaneous. Such a birth applies to beings who come into existence fully grown and complete. To some, this implies that there is always someone in existence previous to the appearance of the new existence, by whom the new existence is caused. In Shinto, the "original gods" are born without parents by apparitional birth.
[12] In Indian Buddhism, Ācala (known as Fudō in Japanese Buddhism) is the best known of the Five Wisdom Kings or Five Guardian Kings of the Womb Realm.  His name is derived from the Sanskrit word termācala, meaning “immovable.”  Fudō is regarded as the destroyer of delusion and the protector of Buddhism; unmoved by carnal temptations, whose role is to aid all beings by presenting to them the teachings of Buddha; thus, leading to self-control.  In Japanese Buddhist tradition, he is regarded as one of the Thirteen Buddhas, typically portrayed holding a sword and a lariat, clad in rags, with one fang pointing up and another pointing down, with a braid on one side of his head.
[13] The mother of Shaka Nyorai.
[14] The Four Heavenly Kings, four Buddhist gods, each of whom watches over one cardinal direction of the world.
[15] Niō (仁王) or Kongōrikishi (金剛力士) are two wrath-filled and muscular guardians of the Buddha standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asian Buddhism in the form of frightening wrestler-like statues. They are dharmapala manifestations of the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi, the oldest and most powerful of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon. According to Japanese tradition, they travelled with Gautama Buddha to protect him and there are references to this in the Pāli Canon as well as the Ambaṭṭha Sutta. Within the generally pacifist tradition of Buddhism, stories of dharmapalas justified the use of physical force to protect cherished values and beliefs against evil. The Niō are also seen as a manifestation of Mahasthamaprapta, the bodhisattva of power that flanks Amitābha in Pure Land Buddhism and as Vajrasattva in Tibetan Buddhism.
[16] In Japanese popular mythology and art, the tengu are commonly represented either as winged men with beak-shaped noses, or as birds of prey. There are different kinds of tengu; but all are supposed to be mountain-haunting spirits, capable of assuming many forms, and occasionally appearing as crows, vultures, or eagles. Buddhism appears to class the tengu among the Mârakâyikas.
[17] Mahavagga. A section of the Vinaya Pitaka, divided into chapters called Khandhakas. The introductory chapters give an account of the incidents immediately following the Buddha’s enlightenment, leading up to the foundation of the Order of the Sangha. It then gives various rules for members of the Sangha, together with the circumstances which led to the formulation of each rule.


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