National Geographic : 1921 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by A. Nielen JAPAN DRESSES HER TREES FOR WINTE These jackets, or hoods of straw, are put o\ tender tree-tops in autumn to protect them frost. "Mountains and Mankind," we see how the Greeks "seized eagerly on any strik ing piece of hill scenery and connected it with a legend or a shrine"; how "they took their highest mountain - broad backed Olympus-for the home of the gods"; and how "they found in the cliffs of Delphi a dwelling for their greatest oracle and a center for their patriot ism"-when one remembers all this, one has but to substitute such names as that of the far loftier "peerless peak" of Fuji san (Fuji-yama), or of Ontake, up to whose sacred summit-shrine the white robed pilgrims toil by thousands, in sunshine and in storm, to wor ship; or of those still holier fanes in far-off Ise in Yamato, where only the Emperor himself or his chosen representative may enter, on behalf of his people, to hold converse with the spirits of the "Divine Ancestors," in order to see how close a resemblance exists between the influence of similar physical surroundings on two peoples endowed with the like characteristics of a lively, artistic, and impressionable na ture. Had Pausanias been able to pursue an itinerary in the Land of the Rising Sun similar to that which he followed in his "De scription of Greece," he would have furnished us with pictures of scenery and observation of the folk-lore and legends of Japan that would, in a hundred separate instances, have been equally true of either of these beautiful lands. MORE STRIKING CLIMATIC CON TRASTS THAN IN ANY OTHER LAND The climatic conditions of Japan offer contrasts of a more striking character than any other country of similar area in the world. While in the north ernmost island we have mainly subarctic features, in the south ernmost we find them subtrop ical. Moreover, on the west coast of the main island we find both those extremes represented in the same region. The cold, dry northwesterly winds of winter that sweep across from Siberia gather up the moisture over the Japan Sea and deposit it in a snowfall often heavy enough to bury whole villages. Intercommunication between house and house is then maintained only by means of sheltered arcades, and buildings of importance need to be identified by sign posts stuck in the snow to indicate the "Post-office is below," "The police sta tion will be found underneath this spot." Nevertheless, in the same region the sum mer is almost tropical in character.