National Geographic : 1921 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE A story is told of a farmer who terraced his own little hillside in no less than eleven tiers. At length he sat down to survey the results, but to his dismay he could see only ten terraces below him. The eleventh was invisible; he was sitting on it! TIIE EFFECT OF MOUNTAINS ON THE JAPANESE It is, then, in the subjugation of the soil that the Japanese people (the peas antry, old and young, number more than 25,000,000) develop so much of their un wearying patience, perseverance, and cheerfulness. Moreover, it is among the soldiers recruited from among the hill men that some of the finest campaigners are found. During the Russo-Japanese War in Manchuria it was found that in districts where long marches over a route chiefly leading along goat paths or across track less gullies and crags, each man having to find his own way and rejoin his company on the farther side, the native mountain eering habits of the lower ranks invari ably enabled them to select the most ac cessible line of country. From what I have already said, I hope I have made it clear that there is an inti mate connection between the physical features of Japan and the psychological characteristics of the Japanese. A brief notice of the mountains in particular will help to illustrate their influence on the inhabitants. Through each of the chief islands of Japan there runs a solid backbone of mountains, which, taken together, con stitute three great mountain systems. The first, or northern, of these is known as the Russian, or Karafuto, system. Karafuto is the Japanese name for Sak halin and means the "Wave-land," in allusion to its mountainous character. Passing through Karafuto, it traverses Hokkaido (Yezo) and reappears in the mainland, which it penetrates to its cen ter in the provinces of Koshu, Shinshu, and Suruga. The second, or southern, is known as the Chinese, or Kuenlun, system. This originates in the Kuenlun Mountains of the central Asian plateau and runs across central China by way of the Peling range, to reappear in the southern islands of Japan, Kyushfi and Shikoku. This sys tem is then continued until it meets the northern, or Karafuto, system in the broadest and central part of the main land. It is here that the profoundest val leys are cleft and the mountain summits rise to their loftiest heights in the varied and picturesque ranges known as the "Japanese Alps." The conflict of these two systems has resulted in terrific upheavals, and then, like a mighty wedge driven in between them, there runs a vast transverse fissure, crossing the mainland of Japan at its broadest span, from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean. It is known as the Fossa Magna, or the Fuji belt, and throughout its entire length a line of erupted volcanoes has burst forth. stretching across the whole width of the island and passing southward through the beautiful hills of the famous Hakone district into the Pacific Ocean in "The Seven Islands of Idzu." As a result of the mingling of these different ranges, we have that extraordi nary variety of form and structure which gives to Japanese mountain landscape its most romantic and characteristic charm. Mighty volcanoes, extinct, quiescent, or active, alternate with great battlements and spires of granite, or with sharp pointed, isolated monoliths of harder rock. VIscOUNT BRYCE'S TRIBUTE TO JAPANESE MOUNTAINS With this variety of outline we find vivid examples of those other factors to which the scenery owes so much-the extreme variations of temperature, the abundance of moisture, and the erosive power of the mountain torrents; and if to these we add the effect of a clear sky and brilliant sunshine during a considerable portion of the year, particularly in spring and autumn, we have the secret of that extraordinary charm of landscape of which Viscount Bryce recently wrote, that "there is probably no other country that exhibits such an endless variety of natural beauty in the shapes of the moun tains and in the rich luxuriance of the trees and flowers." There is no established evidence as to traces of glacial action yet found in the great Alpine ranges of central Japan.