Thus does it come about that, having arrived in Japan in 1873, we ourselves feel well-nigh four hundred years old, and assume without more ado the two well-known privileges of old age,—garrulity and an authoritative air. We are perpetually being asked questions about Japan. Here then are the answers, put into the shape of a dictionary, not of words but of things,—or shall we rather say a guide-book, less to places than to subjects?—not an encyclopædia, mind you, not the vain attempt by one man to treat exhaustively of all things, but only sketches of many things. The old and the new will be found cheek by jowl. What will not be found is padding: for padding is unpardonable in any book on Japan, where the material is so plentiful that the chief difficulty is to know what to omit.
In order to enable the reader to supply deficiencies and to form his own opinions, if haply he should be of so unusual a turn of mind as to desire so to do, we have, at the end of almost every article, indicated the names of trustworthy works bearing on the subject treated in that article. For the rest, this book explains itself. Any reader who detects errors or omissions in it will render the author an invaluable service by writing to him to point them out. As a little encouragement in this direction, we will ourselves lead the way by presuming to give each reader, especially each globe-trotting reader, a small piece of advice.