Japanese artists and Chinese have repeatedly found inspiration in the analysis of the bamboo plant. Hiroshigi, among the greatest of the landscape artists of Japan, founder of a number of the best-known wood-block prints, has immortalized it in his picture of bamboos in a typhoon. Coolies running down the green hillside; chair-bearers bowing before the end; long lines of gray rain and the slender dark wind-tossed stems lightly dancing before the gale! He who would see these graceful grasses at their best must pay a visit to a mountain grove on a windy spring morning. They whirl and influence like dancers that have abandoned themselves to a frenzied rhythm. Light flashes from each smooth leaf as from a mirror before the hill seems covered with a twinkling sheen of silver.
On such times they possess the charm of”beauty half-revealed.” One instant they are concealed in veils of mist, the next they stand out clearly in the rain-washed mountain air as the last shreds of fog slide away through their branches. Every smooth stem shines as if polished; every leaf is tipped with a globule of water before a passing breeze sends a miniature shower in all directions.
The most amazing thing about bamboo is its way of growth. Its sprouts outdo the proverbial mushroom in the manner in which they appear overnight and then continue to scale upward without regard for speed limits. The new spikes push their way through the clods and appear among the older culms like heaps of bayonets, well covered with dark-brown mottled sheaths. No joints are visible initially; nothing but bristling points, competitive and ready to race with all competitors for a spot in sunlight. Nodes soon appear and as the stems lengthen the downy sheaths drop off, leaving the green culms covered with white blossom like the blossom of a peach.
Being curious to know precisely how fast the shoots really grew, I made myself referee when the spikes seemed. Each day I measured certain ones to find out what progress had been made in twenty-four hours. The favorite stood near the garden wall. When first measured it had been eleven inches high. Forty-eight hours after it touched the stick at the twenty-seven inch mark. When nine days old it attained a height of seven feet, its average growth per day for six days being over nine inches. At this time it had been at its ugly duckling stage, for the pointed sheaths reminded among the pinfeathers of young birds. The green leaves shortly burst out, however, and the plant became a soft plume.