National Geographic : 1908 Apr
KUSATSU HOT SPRINGS, BETWEEN THE VOLCANOES ASAMA AND SHIRANE The peak of Shirane appears in the distance, where a crater lake is being made. The exterior of the bath-house whose interior is shown in the next photos. Hundreds of people afflicted with syphilis and leprosy gather at this famous hot spring. the summer at Nik-ko used to go every morning to the court of the temple and "worship" the souls of the officers who died in the Russian war. The alcove be fore which they knelt was filled with the photographs of these brave and loyal men. The distinguished title of the Abbot Hiko-saka is Monseki, which con veys the meaning of Imperial appoint ment. It was in this temple court that General and Mrs. Grant were entertained, and as in those early days (about 1878) there was no foreign hotel in Nik-ko, and therefore no such thing as a bedstead, the priest had a bedstead made worthy of a military hero. There is no scrimping of timber in its frame, and, since springs were wholly unknown, they wove the bedstead with bands of plate iron! A mate to this bedstead was made on the same heroic plan for Her Excellency Mrs. Grant. When this famous couple went to bed, of course they found over the iron network a pile of soft silk futons a foot thick. The official chief of the Shogun shrines is Baron Naka-yama, one of the highest in rank among Shintoists. It is well to remember that Shintoism is not now called a religion by the Japanese; it is a cult. No government has ever handled the perplexing question of church and state so admirably as has that of Japan. See ing that Shintoism with the "worship" of the Imperial ancestors and national heroes would surely lead to a clash with Chris tianity, Shintoism was officially changed from the grade of a religion to that of a cult which concerns Japan alone. This step leaves it possible for a Christian to "worship" at the shrines just as we worship when we take off our hats at the tomb of Washington. In the course of a delightful conversation I asked the Baron, "Is there any objection to a Shin toist becoming a Christian?" He replied with a smile, "None whatever." Nik-ko is a great national center of religion and reverence in an environment of n-arvelous beauty.