"Dwarf Trees" from Joseph I.C. Clarke's
Japan at First Hand

      Joseph Ignatius Constantine Clarke (1846-1925) was born in Kingstown, Ireland.  As a newspaperman he was editor of The New York Criterion from 1898 to 1900.  Financial difficulties at the ownership level resulted in the hiring of a “coordinate manager” to work with Clarke.  Clarke had no faith in him and he promptly resigned, returning to the New York Herald, from whence he came.
        His Manhattan - An Ode was published in 1910, and The Fighting Race and other Poems and Ballads saw print the following year.  Pages 81-88 are "The Soul of Nippon, A Mediæval Legend of Japan" -- a verse retelling of the story of "Hachi-No-Ki" (originally in the Atlantic Monthly, see below).  As President of the American Irish Historical Society, he wrote "The Fighting Race," which was included in the 1914 The Glories of Ireland, edited by Joseph Dunn and P.J. Lennox.  In 1918 he also co-wrote The Imperial Japanese Mission, 1917; a record of the reception throughout the United States of the special mission headed by Viscount Ishii; together with the exchange of notes embodying the Root-Takahira understanding of 1908 and the Lansing-Ishii agreement of 1917 with Viscount Ishii Kikujiro and T. Iyenaga.  Clarke died in New York City the year his final work, My Life and Memories, was published. 1

 
      Japan at First Hand: Her Islands, Their People, the Picturesque, the Real, with Latest Facts and Figures on Their War-Time Trade Expansion and Commercial Outreach (1918):

      "The [Tokyo] garden of the Prime Minister, Count Okuma's house, much larger, has the same differentiation of parts, but there was one very long vista of blooms, very rich in colour when I saw it, with whole hedges and mounds and masses of red, yellow and white azaleas and magnificent peonies, great white, cuplike blooms with yellow at the heart, cascades of bloosoms on every side.  There were hothouses with many varieties of orchids under glass, and there was a parklike portion, more European than Japanese.  Indeed, although Count Okuma speaks no language but his native tongue and is a profound nationalist, his great garden species are not so wholly national.
      "In one thing, however, namely his collection of dwarf trees, he is very Japanese.  He has hundreds of them.  One tiny old baby pine with starlike needles on the branches was very beautiful.  I should have liked to carry it off with me and watch it every day for a year.  The Count is eighty, but sturdy despite his loss of a leg long ago [1889] when a miscreant threw a bomb at him, condemning him since to a wooden leg.  It is his custom to rise at five in the morning and spend an hour walking in his garden every day -- and his days are full of state affairs -- a man of courage, a man of parts and of honourable history.
      "Those dwarf trees of Japan are an unfailing wonder.  The art by which they are produced is quite closely guarded by the super-arboriculturists who produce them.  Its main feature, however, is an annual cutting of a portion of the roots, leaving just enough to sustain the life of a tree without leaving enough to promote its growth.  For this purpose they are grown in pots giving ready access to the roots.  It takes some twenty years to secure success.  Needless to say that during all that time they demand the closest attention, something only possible when it is an immutable part of the day's routine, and only profitable when many hundreds of the little trees are kept under treatment and observation.  The best results are with pine, plum, cherry and maple, the red variety.
      "In the chapter devoted to theatre [herein, pp. 140-143] may be found reference to these Japanese dwarf trees in the account of the No dance called "Hachi-no-ki," or Trees Grown in Pots, showing that the art of dwarfing the trees of the forest and keeping them for house ornamentation is quite ancient.  The No in question was written some three hundred years ago, and the story refers to a shogunate many centuries more remote.  A metrical rendering of the legend -- not at all a translation -- made years before my visit to Japan, will also be found in this volume (pp. 155-160) under the title of 'The Soul of Nippon.'" 2


NOTES

1       Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0164832/; World Cat, http://worldcat.org/oclc/1185235&referer=brief_results.

2       Clarke, Joseph I.C.   Japan at First Hand: Her Islands, Their People, the Picturesque, the Real, with Latest Facts and Figures on Their War-Time Trade Expansion and Commercial Outreach (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company; 1918), pp. 80-81.  The copy of "The Soul of Nippon" in this digital copy is poor quality, so see the copy found in the aforementioned The Fighting Race instead.

         See also Okuma in Clark, Jerningham, and Stopes.



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