|He never shows his real face to me; he wears the mask of happiness as an etiquette.|
Sensitiveness exists in the Japanese to an extent never supposed by the foreigners who treat them harshly at the open ports. In Izumo I knew a case of a maid servant who received a slight rebuke with a smile, and then quietly went out and hung herself. I have notes of many curious suicides of a similar sort. And yet the Japanese master is never brutal or cruel. How Japanese can serve a certain class of foreigners at all, I can’t understand- Possibly they do not think of them (the foreigners) as being exactly human beings—but rather Oni, or at best Tengu.
Well, here is another thing. My cook wears a smiling, healthy, rather pleasing face. He is a good-looking young man. Whenever I used to think of him I thought of the smile, I saw a mask before me merry as one of those little masks of Oho-kumi-nushi-no- kami they sell at Mionoseki. One day I looked through a little hole in the shoji, and saw him alone. The face was not the same face. It was thin and drawn, and showed queer lines worn by old hardship. I thought ‘’he will look just like that when he is dead.” I went in, and the man was all changed—young and happy again—nor have I ever seen that look of trouble in his face since. But I know when he is alone he wears it. He never shows his real face to me; he wears the mask of happiness as an etiquette. — From the Correspondence of Hearn, in the Atlantic, 1909
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