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The Soul Of The Far East

by Percival Lowell

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"The boyish belief that on the other side of our globe all things are of necessity upside down is startlingly brought back to the man when he first sets foot at Yokohama."

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The boyish belief that on the other side of our globe all things are of necessity upside down is startlingly brought back to the man when he first sets foot at Yokohama. If his initial glance does not, to be sure, disclose the natives in the every-day feat of standing calmly on their heads, an attitude which his youthful imagination conceived to be a necessary consequence of their geographical position, it does at least reveal them looking at the world as if from the standpoint of that eccentric posture.

Excerpted from The Soul of the Far East [E-BOOK: MICROSOFT READER] by Percival Lowell. Copyright © 2000. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved
For any more personal purpose New Year's day eclipses all particular anniversaries. Then everybody congratulates everybody else upon everything in general, and incidentally upon being alive. Such substitution of an abstract for a concrete birthday, although exceedingly convenient for others, must at least conduce to self-forgetfulness on the part of its proper possessor, and tend inevitably to merge the identity of the individual in that of the community.

It fares hardly better with the Far Oriental in the matter of marriage. Although he is, as we might think, the person most interested in the result, he is permitted no say in the affair whatever. In fact, it is not his affair at all, but his father's. His hand is simply made a cat's-paw of. The matter is entirely a business transaction, entered into by the parent and conducted through regular marriage brokers. In it he plays only the part of a marionette. His revenge for being thus bartered out of what might be the better half of his life, he takes eventually on the next succeeding generation.

His death may be said to be the most important act of his whole life. For then only can his personal existence be properly considered to begin. By it he joins the great company of ancestors who are to these people of almost more consequence than living folk, and of much more individual distinction.



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