Monday, June 1, 2015

Etiquette from Feudal Japan

A Japanese "Page" or Servant, of a British Duke

Feudal Servants in Japan

The relation between mistress and maid or master and man in Japan is a curious combination of the democratic and the feudal. It is something of an honor to be a servant, and the jinrikisha boys and grooms are not reckoned good enough to be classed as such, but are called "tradesmen," a class which in Japan is only a degree higher than the "eta," or outcast. Grooms are excluded as a betting, gaming, cheating lot (the Japanese think it impossible for a groom to be honest), and the 'rikisha boys as rough people, without any manners.
Jinrikisha boys were considered rough and without any manners. They pulled rickshaws. The word rickshaw originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha  jin or "human" and riki or "power." 

A Japanese butler has to have sufficient knowledge of etiquette to entertain his master's guests if his master is out. After rubbing his knees together, much hissing and kowtowing, he will invite you to take a seat— on the floor. He will then offer you five cups of tea— It is the number of cups that signifies, not the number of callers— and dropping on his heels with ease and grace, enter into an affable conversation, properly humble, but perlectly familiar, until his master arrives to relieve him. Even then he may stay In the room, and is quite likely to cut into the conversation, and to laugh at the smallest apology for a joke. The number of servants in a Japanese household is large and the pay small. They only get a few shillings a week and have to board themselves. — San Francisco Call, 1903

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