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Among the crowd we occasionally meet a man carrying a bamboo stick, one end of which is split and holds half-a-dozen hardened mochis. He intends to scorch the cakes in the flames of the relics and, upon returning home, to divide them among his family and eat them for the miraculous power they are then believed to possess.

This is, in short, the manner in which we observe and end our great national holiday of New Year. Of late, it is to be regretted, many of the old customs are omitted by the people who have got modern notions into their heads. Innovations of the latter days not very desirable or in good taste are fast gaining ground. A few years more, and, I fear, the neglect of time-honored observances will be complete in Japan.

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CHAPTER XII.

We have a great many other holidays; it is impossible to speak of them all. Simply to name some, there are God Fox's day on the second of the second month; the Feast of Dolls, for little girls, on the third of the third month; the Feast of Flags for little boys on the fifth of the fifth month; the ablution mass in the sixth month; the Tanabata (eve of the seventh) on the seventh of the seventh month; the day of chrysanthemum flowers and the festival of Inoko late in the fall, not to mention festivals of several local deities. The vital importance of these holidays to us children centered in the dainties and delicacies with which our mothers and sisters served us then and not often at ordinary times. We enjoy boiled red beans and rice on the second of February; rice-flour cakes wrapped in the leaves of a species of oak called kashiwa on the fifth of May; rice-flour cakes daubed with the an on the day of the Buddhistic ceremony of ablution; roast and boiled chestnuts and rice and chestnuts on the ninth of September; and the sake on almost all occasions, but with a spray of peach blossom inserted in the bottle on the third of March, and a bunch of chrysanthemum flowers on the chrysanthemum day.

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In Tanabata and Inoko the boys of the town used to club together on payment of a small fee, the biggest among them presiding over their affairs by common consent. Our first work is to canvass such houses in consecutive order as have large front rooms, soliciting their owners to loan us the room for a few days for a temporary clubhouse, free of charge. And when we are given by a generous man the use of his house, thither we convey our common property. The property comprises the scroll gods, a holy mirror, the golden goheì (a sacred brass ornament), a pair of pewter saké bottles, splendid curtains, a large number of the sambo (offering stand of white wood, sometimes varnished), countless Japanese lanterns, timber and board ready to be put together for an altar looking like a staircase, Chinese crimson felt carpets, several drums and certain kinds of bells. These things have been handed down to us by successive generations of boys, repaired each year and additions made by donations or by "chipping in," and all nicely packed in chests, on the sides and covers of which we read the names of some that have died, and of others that are yet living though well-nigh to the grave. The boys take good care of the old heirlooms, that they may transmit them without injury to their successors. The older boys take the things out and set up a place of worship; on the days of festivity the members come to the headquarters with their lunch-boxes well stocked. We assemble not to worship really, you might as well understand now, but to have a good time. Fruits and cakes have

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been taken in by the managers from the wholesale merchants, and are piled up in pyramids on the samboes upon the steps of the altar; they are to be divided equally among the stockholders afterwards. The lanterns are lighted brilliantly at night; a special lantern is hoisted on a very high pole planted before the house to signify our quarters.

At Tanabata we march through the streets with green bamboo trees, rending the air with certain shouts and beating the instruments, and upon meeting the boys of other streets have a scuffle. The scene is a confusion of bamboos and bits of rainbow-colored papers which are tied plentifully to the branches. After a hot contest we come home to the club, eat a hearty lunch and celebrate the incidents of our victory. The day after the festival we take our bamboos to the sea and cast them off to be drifted away by the waves and finally up to the Heavenly Stream or the Milky Way, where the gods may read our wishes written on the rainbow-colored papers. On this day everybody goes swimming, because the sea-monkey is handcuffed that can lengthen one arm enormously at the expense of the other, and draws in and drowns people, especially boys who go swimming in opposition to their mothers' remonstrance.

At Inoko we bring forth our gorin. A gorin is a spherical stone, usually granite, with an iron belt loose in a groove around the great circumference; the belt has many small rings through it. A club of boys possesses five to ten gorins of various sizes. To the rings are attached ropes, and calling at the

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families to which came male offspring during the year, the boys utter words of blessing and pound the ground by pulling up and down the solid stone. After a series of thumps a depression is left behind. We hold gorin collisions with neighboring powers. A challenge is sent to other clubs to meet us with their best gorin on neutral ground at such a time, that we may know which is stronger. The war gorin is equipped for the contest with a network of ropes, exposing a portion of the surface that shall deal the blow; the leading boys guide it in the battle by several strong ropes. Generally in the collision more noise is heard than the clash; however, not rarely the contest is kept up until one or the other splits through the core, and the opposition is so strong as to cause older people to interfere in the affair, because it infallibly entails unpleasant feeling between the parties and a scrimmage at all times. I call to mind that our club used to plume itself upon the strength and durability of its gorins; no, not one received so much as a crack, albeit many and severe were the tests to which they had been subjected.

Besides the gorin sports, at Inoko we get up wrestling matches. On the yard of the club-house we build a circular bank of clay and fill the inside with sand; in this all the members contend in practice. Small as I was, I did not like to be thought out of fashion, and to pay for my uncalledfor prowess suffered from sores and bruises. In a body we visit the headquarters of the other clubs and negotiate the matches, which take place immediately on the spot in full view of both parties.

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