Japan As They Saw It


    One peculiar custom is soon noted. It is the destiny of every girl, and many of the boys, to assume at an early age the care of younger members of the household; and almost every one, from four years old upward, has a baby strapped upon the back. Seen at a little distance, if the baby is awake, the two heads seem to belong to one person, the smaller being set a little to one side, instead of squarely upon the shoulders; and if, as often happens, the other head, to maintain a balance, leans in the opposite direction, it is a question at first which belongs to baby and which to nurse. Intent upon their sports or running of errands, as the case may be, these children seem scarcely conscious of their burthens. And the little ones, seemingly aware of their dependence, are hardly more trouble than so many kittens. They submit to be jounced, jolted, and tossed about in most reckless fashion, seldom cry, and when wearied fall asleep with head drooping back or to one side, in a way that threatens instant dislocation of the neck.

James Henry Chapin, From Japan to Granada, 1889

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