Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California on October 25, 1925 · Page 96
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Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California · Page 96

Oakland, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 25, 1925
Page 96
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LOVE Geisha Gir SMI: Ban f "TOW Unsuccessful Suicide Attempt of Baron Kitazato's Son jjr C055 ze youA 77e, Reputation, Wife and Sweetheart: tSrmss Shame fo Father All That u National Honor May Be. Preserved EHHl!lI IN JAPAN, if one makes a good job of suicide, it is possible that, despite the efforts of the Government to stop the practice, he may get his name entered in the "Suicide Almanac" and enjoy the tribute paid to the great lovers of past centuries who have died for love. Should one fail in his attempt to quit this life, there remains nothing but a long vista of misery which unfolds itself into eternity. It is down such an avenue of bleak years that Shuntaro Kitazato, heir of the Baron Kitazato, gazes today. For Shuntaro, forsaking his wife, made a suicide pact with Kotuju, the beautiful geisha girl of Akasaka, and failed. By this very failure he has lost his rife, who divorced him, his love, who successfully drowned, his title, and his friends. And he has gained for himself only the bitterness that comes from the fact that his father, the baron, has been publicly denounced fpr failing to educate his son along lines laid down for the nobles of Japan. The story of Shuntaro is woven with cherry blossoms and silvery pagodas, with starlit nights of early spring and youth, with a hopeless love and the bleak hand of tragedy. The young man apparently had much of the happiness and comfort of thii world. To begin with, he would one day, inherit the wealth of his father. More to be reckoned than this, he would, upon his father's death, received that great parent's title a title which linked him with the imperial household. He was married to a charming woman, a member of one of the oldest Samurai families. He was blessed with two little . lildren. He was making rapid progress in the business world. All things considered, a brilliant future for him lay at no great distance. And yet, for the smile of a little dancing girl, for a few moments of stolen love, Shuntaro paid everything he had in life, and his perhaps hope of Paradise among' the lotus blossoms with his beloved. FPHE story goes that Shuntaro was, one evening, in the company of some prominent men in Tokw, and they were eariestly engaged in important business. Later, with their plans transacted, they allowed their thoughts to wander to lighter things, and, in the course of events, entertainment was provided. Several girls came in response to a summons, and one of them was the beautiful Kotuju. The moment she entered the room the gods of his ancestors bent down from the Lotus Land to laugh and to sigh. For in that instant the wealth of the world began to lose its significance. Shuntaro knew, as well as though the word had been spoken, that this was the one woman he was to love. All the rest of that evening he watched her as she played and sang before the quiet, impassive men. Not like them was Shuntaro. His heart choked him, and he hud to clench his hands lest their trembling should betray him. Perhaps the o;ie sane thought in the young man's whirling brain was that of his wife. And he thought of her with no feeling but one of regret for her existence.- After that -nightthe two met several times and the meetings served only to increase their love. Then, one early evening, before darkness had quite settled over their trysting place, Shuntaro spoke the words that had driven themselves into his brain even with the first bliss of love. Hopeless it was, he said. Yet how was he to go on without l.er? Despite her love for him, the little dancing girl had enough courage to remind him of those things life held so sweet for him wealth and position. And his answer was very dear. Life, he told her, would be nothing if he could not have herl v Mump 3fH rs ill ;:H:WS:i:S:?v: Gladly would he em-brance poverty and ob scurity if she were with him! What were they to do? For a long moment they looked into each other's eyes and both knew the answer. Kotuju said softly, with small face upturned to the night breeze, heavy with the odor of flowers and blossoms, "We will die together, and then, in the realm of Paradise, we shall never be parted again." It was not easy to die. On a night of stars and soft winds and early spring that was meant for life, it was not easy to die. "Only a step across," whispered Shuntaro, "it is but the other side of the door, and, once over the threshold, eternal happiness awaits us." Holding each other by the hand, they walked to the edge of the lake beautiful Lake Chuzenji, that nestles among the age-old shrines of Nikko. Just for a moment Shuntaro hesitated, fumbled in his garments, turned his head aside. "I shall be with you always,'.' Kotuju reminded him softly, fearing he meant to draw back. And she did not see, but in that brief instant her 'lover had thrust a small knife into his throat. His hand tightened on hers, and without speaking they flung themselves into the water. Shortly afterward Shuntaro was dragged from the lake alive, rushed to a hospital and lingered there for weeks between life and death and finally recovered. When he had sufficiently regained his senses he was tpld that his Kotuju was dead. Knowing what had taken place since that night, those who conveyed the news nodded their heads and agreed it would have been much better had he died also. Many things had happened in the days while he hovered on the edge of the world. The rulers of Japan did not wait for him to recover that he might give his testimony. The reason for his action was apparent enough, and the manner of departing from life was also plain. They called together the Council of Peers for no such purpose. But the great ones of Japan met for the solemn motive of declaring that this peer's son had threatened the morality of his country! Poor consolation for a man who has lost the woman he loved! What did it matter to Shuntaro whether his country had ever had any morality! But, certain it is, he had no idea of the lengths to which the Council would go. At a conference, lasting for more than two hours, in the Imperial Palace in Tokio, Marcjuis Inouye presided over a group which included Prince Konoe, Baron Nakamura, Count Chinda, Marquis Kurosa, Count Matsudaira and Vis- By the side of Lake Chuzenji young Shuntaro and the geisha maiden resolved to die because of their love. Just for a moment Shuntaro hesitated, then they plunged in. 1H The fame of the beauty of the geisha girls is world-wide and some of the finest physical types of Japanesewomanhood are found among them. The girl who is reproduced is reputed to be the handsomest geisha girl in Japan in all the newspapers, and within a week about a score of couples who imagined themselves in the same position also killed themselves together. At Karuizawa today there is a small monument, erected to the memory of the love of Arishima and his sweetheart. It has remained amid the ruins of Ari-shima's villa, which was destroyed by the earthquake in 1923. To this monument many young women travel as to a shrine, offering their prayers for a love that seems hopeless, for they believe it possi ble that the help them. spirits of the lov -. may 3 ill! mm ft. W H It was agreed, they said, that Shuntaro Kitazato should be deprived of all rights of succession, and forever excluded from the peerage. But far worse than this, which was disgraceful enough, was the decision that Baron Kitazato, the young man's father, should be severely and publicly censured for neglecting his son. In Japan, as in China, the whole family takes responsibility for the deeds of one of its members. And many accusations have been suffered by the head of a family. But the very worst thing that can be charged against a father is that he has neglected the education of his son. The younger Kitazato, by his action, has subjected his father to shame from which he is not likely to recover. ITHEN all this became known, it ' seemed as though nothing more could possibly be added to the troubles of Shuntaro. But if he thought they were at an end, however disgraceful an end, he was quite mistaken. For a few days after the Council had passed judgment upon him his wife announced regretfully that she would be compelled to divorce him. Her family, it seems, had its honor to look to, and decided that it could not endure the ignominy of having any further connection with the young man, even though she must, under the that greater civilization brought with it ideas against suicide. Yet a great deal of surprise was shown over the action 0-the Council in dealing so harshly with the young son of a peer. The Japanese press has editorially approved the decision of the Council, the editors declaring that the action of Shuntaro is an evidence of slack morality, and -they believe that it should be dealt with severely. Yet it appears that their judgment, while severe, is much milder than that accorded similar offenses under the laws of Old Japan. The common people of Japan, however, like those in any other country, have read every newspaper report dealing with the case and appear to have divided opinions. At any rate, the story, having been widely published, aroused comment everywhere. And if the powers of the Emperor condemned the action, there were many of the people who applauded Shuntaro's disastrous attempt to die, even though he did not actually realize his desire. rpHE "shinju," or double suicide, has A occurred frequently throughout Japanese history in spite of all efforts to prevent it. Until the reorganization of Japan under the Emperor Meiji, survivors of love suicide pacts, whatever In Japan a father is responsible for the acts of his son, and Baron Kitazato (in the circle) was publicly denounced for failing to educate his boy along the lines laid down for children of the nobility. Above is a group of geisha girls, probably much the same as those who danced before Shuntaro and his friends the night the young nobleman lost his heart to follow them. Classical examples of persons who have died together have been preserved in novels, plays and poems. Plays, based upon such incidents, are among the most popular in the Japanese theatre today. Three plays of this sort seem never to tire the people, rarely a year passing without their production in the theatres of Tokio and Osaka. They are "Osono and Rakusa," "Osome and Hisamatsu" and "Ohan and Choemon." Their titles are the names of memorable lovers. But the plays always record those who succeed in their attempt to die for love. They do not tell of the greater tragedy of such as Shuntaro Kitazato, who failed. It seems strange that the public may enjoy the spectacle of "love suicides" on the stage and yet so bitterly denounce one miserable man who failed to die, but the Council of Peers explains this easily. An outstanding incident like that of Shuntaro and the geisha girl often inspires other couples to follow the example. It was this that the council feared when they met promptly to decide upon the case. And their tears have been justified, for the police have reported many divorce laws of Japan, give up her chil- T;ountSengoku, all of thechiefs of the dren, one oflheni a baby, bureau and the foremost officials of the So, Shuntaro sees before him nothing imperial household. And these men, but the bleak years, stripped of all that their station in life, were degraded intoA cases of "shinju" since the story of the some of the most influential among the rulers of Japan, passed judgment upon the unfortunate young man. Viscount Sengoku presented the bare outlines of the case,' reading the official reports carefully compiled by the police of Tochigi prefecture and the Metropolitan Police Board o"f Tokio. The noblemen present discussed the case thoroughly and finally reached a unanimous decision, and their judgment was immediately reported to His Imperial Highness, the Prince Regent. can make life even endurable. Of course, he might try again to die and be successful this time, but, stronger than a resolve to take one's life is the Japanese code of honor that forbids- one to make a second attempt. The world generally has an idea that suicide, with the Japanese, is a common thing, not only tolerated, but even applauded. It is known, of course, that their favorite method of dispatching themselves into Paradise, by means of hari-kari, is no longer permitted, and the lowest group in the Japanese social system. For the remainder of their lives they could not have social intercourse even with the laboring classes. Though they had been of the nobility, they could never again talk or communicate in any way with their parents, their brothers, sisters or their friends. But the severity of this penalty did not prevent a long list of names from appearing in the "Shinju Almanac," in which those who had attempted to die for love are recorded. There have been famous men and women in every walk of life who have died together for love, and it is the action of such people as Shuntaro and Kotuju which impels others peer's . son became-known. rriHIS s afte result was even more noticeable ter the "shinju" case of the novel ist Arishima, not long ago. This incident was classical," following the plays, because it was successful. Arishima, who was one of the most popular writers in Japan, fell in love with a young married woman. , The woman returned his love and they decided to die together. They made careful preparations, according to the best traditions of Japan, and on a winter night killed themselves at Karuizawa, a famous summer resort in the mountains near Tokio. The story was printed The lovers who try to die and fail are probably the most unhappy. Their ending drags on with increasing unhappi-ness. Such was the case of Karmako, daughter of the late Count Yoshikawa, a veteran statesman. She was married and had two daughters. Yet nothing could prevent her from running away with her chauffeur, with whom she had fallen in love. So they lived together for a time, but soon realized that they could not be happy for long. It was when they reached that decision that, remembering the long list of lovers who had parted to meet forever in the joys of Paradise, they made their "shinju" pact. The man, in his resolve to die, was successful, but Karmako, though she tried to kill herself, failed, and she lives on today, an outcast from her family, having forfeited all that life held dear. TN JAPAN, if one makes a good job ol, A suicide, he may enjoy the tribute paid to the intrepid souls who have calmly and steadily laid down everything they possessed for love. But Shuntaro failed to die. And life spreads itself before him stripped of wealth, his title, his wife, his reputation and his sweethearts Wofs'f"6faIl, it "offers te ppospect of weary years ' in which to remember that he brought shame upon his father. For this the ghosts of his ancestors must frown in high displeasure and the Land of the Departed must quake beneath the disdain with which they regard him. Yet, perhaps Shuntaro reasons, somewhere in the maze of the spirit world is the soul of Kotuju, for whom he risked all. "It is but a step across," they had whispered to each other on that night of stars and cherry blossoms. "Once over the threshold eternal happiness await. " rfl El X I

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