THE noisy time has slipped away
even gracefully at Kyoto. (I see that it—the barbarian of modern
type—has still a certain amount of etiquette in Japan.) Content is so
natural and even becoming here (at other places it is almost outlandish and at
the same time the most expensive thing to acquire), when one passes through the
dustless streets of Kyoto, where the little houses with moss-eaten dark tiles
humbly beg for their temporary existence on promise not to disturb the natural
harmony with the green mountains and the temples that the holy spirits built.
How different from the foreign houses, red or white, seeming even to push away
the old-fashioned Nature with vain [splendour] of scorn. The Kyoto people,
the moth-spirits or butterfly-ghosts, are born for pleasure-making, but not in
the modern meaning; the modern pleasure-making is rather a forced production of
criticsm, therefore often oppressive and always explanatory in attitude. I
say they sip the tea; I do not mean the black 
tea or the red tea which the Western people drink, calling it Oriental tea; but
I mean that pale green tea, so mild that it does not kill the taste of boiled
water. It is the high art of the tea-master to make you really taste the
water beside the taste of the tea; he is very particular about he water when he
is going to make the tea; I am told that his keen tongue at once differentiates
the waters from a well or a stream, and he can distinguish even the season from
the taste of the water, whether it be spring or autumn. He always laughs
at the attempt to make tea with the ready water from a screw in the kitchen,
which most unpoetically comes through the tube from a certain reservoir.
We do not call you a real tea-drinker when you think you only drink the tea; you
must really taste the fragrance and spirits of tender leaves of a living
tea-tree, which grew by accident and fortune under a particular sunlight and
rain. And, of course, more than that, you must learn how to sip the tea
philosophically; I mean that you must taste, through the medium of a teacup, the
general atmosphere, grey and silent. And there is no better place than
Kyoto, the capital of the mediaeval, to drink tea as a real tea-sipper.
A few days ago I enjoyed a little play (comedy, but
poetry), "Sakura Shigure," or "The Cherry-blossom Shower," by my friend Gekko
Takayasu—the play is the love between Yoshino and Saburobei. Yoshino was
a courtesan of four or five hundred years ago—of course, not in the modern
sense, but a type which the Tosa school artists were happy to paint, the most
famous beauty of that age whose name was known even to China, although it was
the age of isolation. It is said than Li Shozan, the Chinese poet, sent
her a poem written on his meeting with her in a dream, It is written in
Okagami: "Her temperament was sprightly; she was wise. Her charming spirit
was impressive; she was at once free in disposition, and again sympathetic in
feeling." Yoshino was a rare personality; and it was the age when dignity
and freedom were wll protected even for a courtesan; in truth, she was in no way
different from the maiden at a palace of the Heian period. Yoshino was a
character which only the  Kyoto atmosphere and
culture could create, and I congratulate the dramatist Takayasu, whose perfect
assimilation with Kyoto made him able to produce this play. The play opens
with a scene where Yoshino is leaving the house of pleasure with her lover,
Saburobei, who has been disinherited by his wealthy family on her account, only
to find the real meaning of life and love. The story is interesting; but I
am not going to tell it, as it is not the very point for my purpose.
The second scene is a cottage, wretched but artistic, as
the inmates are Yoshino and her husband. I see in the background the
mountains of Higashi Yama, Kiyomizu, and Toribe, to whose protection Kyoto, whom
I love, clings with an almost human passion. The house is wretched, but
the presence of Yoshino—now housewifely, but having an unforgotten glimmer of
gaiety of her past life, makes the whole atmosphere perfectly tantalising.
The season is autumn (Kyoto's autumn sweet and sad); the leaves fall. And
again, as the season is autumn, we have at Kyoto a frequent shower, as we see it
on the stage presently; 
and that shower, light but very lonesome, is necessary, as it made Shoyu, father
of Saburobei, of course a stranger, find his shelter under Yoshino's roof.
Yoshino welcomed him in, and offered him a cup of tea. He was taken to
admiration while he looked on her way to make tea, as he was no mean tea-master.
He became on the spot an unconditional admirer of his forgotten son's wife, whom
he had cursed and despised without any acquintance. I said already that
you should come to Kyoto to drink tea; I say again that even at Kyoto you must
drink it while listening to the voice of rain; better than that, of the autumnal
shower, sad but musical, which is spiritual, therefore Oriental. It is the
keystroke of the tea, of the old capital of Japan, and again my friend's play.
What happens next when Shoyu finds in Yoshino a tea-drinker, and an admirable
woman, too, would be, I believe, the next question you will ask me. It is
prosaic to answer it, and it will end as any other comedy always ends. And
it would be better to make it end as you please; that is not the real point.
The main thing is the tea 
and the autumnal shower, the soul of poetry that is Kyoto.
You are bound to be sad sooner or later in Tokyo or any
other city of modern type, where you will find yourself as a straying ghost in a
human desert; ther ethe dream would die at once as a morning glory under the
sunlight. While I admit that the weariness is, in fact, the hightest
poetry of the Eastern nature, I will say that Tokyo's weariness is a kind that
has lost beauty and art; and the weariness at Kyoto is a kind that has soared
out of them. That is the difference; but it is a great difference.
As there is the poetry of weariness at Kyoto—the highest sort of Oriental
poetry—it is your responsive mind that makes you at once join with great
eternity and space; it is most easy there to forget time and hours. It
seems to me that nothing is more out of place at Kyoto than a newspaper.
When you used to know the time of day or night you have only to wait for a
temple bell to ring out; you would be more happy not to be stung by the
tick-tack of clock. Sanyo Rai, the eminent scholar of some sixty years
ago, wrote an 
invitation to his friend saying that he would expect him to come "at the time
when the mountain grows purple and the water clear." Indeed, it is the
very hour of autumn evening at Kyoto where Nature presents the varied aspect by
which you can judge the exact time. By the mountain, Rai means Higashi
Yama; by the water, of course, Kamo Gawa. It is the happy old city, this
Kyoto, whose poetical heart exchanges beauty and faith with Nature. It is
only here, even in Japan, that Nature is almost human, like you and me.