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Samurai Trails

Length: 222 pages3 hours


The trains pass by the ancient shrines of the wayside with no tarrying for moments of contemplation. Today a samurai, with a newspaper under one arm and a lunch box under the other—his two swords have been thus displaced—goes from Kyoto to Tokyo in as few hours as were the days of his father’s journeying. When the feudal emperors made this pilgrimage they were carried in silk-hung, lacquered palanquins, and fierce-eyed, two-sworded retainers cleared the streets and sealed the houses so that no prying eyes might violate sancrosanctity. As for our pilgrimage we appreciated that we were not sacred emperors and that we were coming along without announcement. The inhabitants kept the sides of their houses open and stared out upon us. We felt free, discreetly, to return their glances from under the brims of our pith helmets, but occasionally this freedom felt a panicky restraint within itself to keep eyes on the road.

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