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NIIGATA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 689 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NIIGATA, the chief town of the province of Echigo, japan. Pop. (1903) 58,821. It lies on the west coast of the island of Nippon, on a narrow strip of sandy ground between the left bank of the Shinano and the sea, which though close at hand is shut out from view by a low range of sandhills. It occupies an area of rather more than 1 sq. In., and consists of five long parallel streets intersected by cross-streets, which in most cases have canals running down the middle and communicating with the river, so that the internal traffic of the city is mainly carried on by water. The houses are, usually built with gables to the street, and roofs and verandas project so as to keep the windows and footpaths from being blocked up by the heavy winter snows. Niigata was originally chosen as one of the five open ports—Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama, Niigata and Hakodate—but it failed, chiefly owing to a bar which prevents the entry of vessels groups of three, four, five, &c., up to ten. In the Dialogues the arrangement in such numbered groups is frequent. In an age when books, in our modern sense, were unknown, it was a practical necessity to invent and use aids to memory. Such were the repetition of memorial tags, of cues (as now used for a precisely similar purpose on the stage), to suggest what is to come. Such were also these numbered lists of technical ethical terms. Religious teachers in the West had similar groups—the seven deadly sins, the ten commandments, the four cardinal virtues, the seven Sacraments, and many others. These are only now, since the gradual increase of books, falling out of use. In the 5th century B.C. in India it was found convenient by the early Buddhists to classify almost the whole of their psychology and ethics in this manner. And the Anguttara Nikaya is based on that classification. In the last Nikaya, the Samyulta (The Clusters), the same doctrines are arranged in a different set of groups, according to subject. All the Logia (usually of the master himself, but also of his principal disciples) on any one point, or in a few cases as addressed to one set of people, are here brought together. That was, of course, a very convenient arrangement then. It saved a teacher or scholar who wanted to find the doctrine on any one subject from the trouble of repeating over, or getting some one else to repeat over for him, the whole of the Dialogues or the Anguttara. To us, now, the Samyutla seems full of repetitions; and we are apt to forget that they are there for a very good reason. During the time when the canon was being completed there was great activity in learning, repeating to oneself, rehearsing in company and discussing these three collections. But there was also considerable activity in a more literary direction. Hymns were sung, lyrics were composed, tales were told, the results of some exciting or interesting talk were preserved in summaries of exegetical exposition. A number of these have been fortunately preserved for us in twenty-two collections, mostly of very short pieces, in the fifth or miscellaneous Nikaya, the Khuddaka Nikaya. of any size. The town has been brought within the railway circuit, and the production of petroleum has been developed in the district. Ebisa, on the island of Sado, was opened as a supplementary harbour of refuge, but not as a trading port. There is a large manufacture of lacquer-ware in the town. The foreign trade is entirely in the hands of Japanese merchants. During winter Niigata suffers from a terribly severe climate; the summers, moreover, are excessively hot.
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