Village life in Japan
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The content and environment of Japanese life are so totally different from those of American life that it may not be amiss if we consider first some of the difficulties to be met with in any sound and unbiased discussion of the life of the common people. It is unsafe to take anything for granted or to draw general conclusions. One therefore in writing upon any phase of Japanese life must either depend upon his own observations, and these must extend over many years to be of any value; or be able to cull from the great mass of written material the few kernels of truth that it contains. One soon learns, however, how very difficult, in fact how nearly impossible, it is for a westerner to gain first-hand information of any worth or accuracy in the study of social conditions in Japan; and likewise how few really valuable things have been written along the lines which are here undertaken. I have consulted practically everything available in English bearing in any way upon the different phases of the life of the common people in the smaller communities, and have endeavored to choose from this the things that give a notion of what that life really is; and have drawn from my own experience of a residence of three years in Japan. The more, however, that I think of the Japanese as they are the more impossible it seems to present a picture that will give any adequate conception of the reality. And yet the question of the village life "is a most important one, for it is in the villages that survive the most numerous traces of the past. In the towns the old landmarks are being rapidly obliterated".