Montreal Daily Star, 26 October 1891, page 4

Japanese Girls

In Japan there are two things which are taught to all little girls, says Our Little Men and Women, one is how to place a flower or a branch of leaves in a vase, and the other is how to play on a guitar.  If you go into a Japanese home you hear a tinkle from almost every room.  You get used to this soft, light beat of music as you do to the gurgle of a brook or the drip of a fountain.  There seems to be no Japanese house without its Power vase, its picture on the wall, and its guitar.  The Japanese have four kinds of guitar or harp.  The Samasin is the common kind.  It has a long, black neck, its square body is covered with a tight catskin and it has three strings or wires; the player strikes those wires with a curious little piece of ivory or she picks them with her fingers.  Then there is the big Koto with its thirteen strings, and there is a tiny lute with four strings, and there is a very fine sort of harp brought from China and called a girken.  The girken has three sets of wires, and if Miss Chrysanthemum is an accomplished musician she makes gay music on her Chinese harp.  With the rosy fingertips of her small brown hands she can bring forth from the wires all the sounds of the great Japanese hunt, which takes place each year, the 3rd of November.  On one set of wires she can call like a hunter to his hounds, and from another set at the same time you hear the hounds bark and bay.  She will give you from that little harp the most entertaining noise—the cries of the Japanese wild animals, and the notes of the swamp and water birds.  The Japanese are so fond of music that they scarcely take a meal without the harp or guitar.  The table music is either furnished by a daughter of the family or a “singing girl” hired from the outside of whom there is a large class in Japan.  The singing girl will come  in on her little wooden clogs, bring her guitar, and with the jeweled hairpin stuck in her glossy black hair and her grey sash tied in big bows at the back she looks exactly as you see her on Japanese fans.  While the family eat rice, and beans, and raw fish, she will sing them a song of a flowering cherry-tree or a red peony, or chant them a ballad of the golden dragon, sounding the guitar all the while.  I am sorry to say she sings ‘through her nose” and in a very high key.  Sometimes a small  drum is used  and now and then the singer accents her song with a dull , soft boom, boom boom.  The Japanese girls have very beautiful names which mean “Little Purple,” “Little Butterfly,” “Silver Bird,” “White Brightness,” “Brightener of the Flower,” Pearl Harp,” and many other lovely things.

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