Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Writing Lessons in Japan


The Instructor Must Not Speak to His Princely Pupils.

One of the most remarkable occurrences one meets in Japan is the instruction in chirography given to a daimio, a member of the Japanese military nobility.

The writing teacher, who is called a professor there as well as here, prepares the copies in secret, so they can be used only for the little prince in question. A swarm of maids is busy waiting on the daimio, fetching and preparing what pupil and teacher need. At the appointed hour the professor makes his appearance. Without saying a word, and with the most funereal countenance, he approaches his pupil. A white napkin covers his mouth, so that his breath cannot offend the little prince. The Japanese are very sensitive in this regard. After exhausting every possible form of silent greeting the professor sits down, rules the paper and begins the instruction.

When the daimio has scribbled over several of the lines, it is the duty of the teacher to go into raptures over the wonderful talent of the youngster. Tears of joy must fill his eyes, but all must be done in silence; not a word must be spoken to the daimio. All the professor is permitted to do is to call the head maid, commissioning her to express in proper language his most devoted admiration. — St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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