25th July to 25th August 1872
(Page 79) July 25th
Left Shilamwe for Ubutsu about 10 a.m. sore and tired. The Japs were anxious to make two stages, one of 20 and the other of 17 miles, but we declined the second for today. The road to Ubutsu runs along a sandy plateau by the sea the whole distance, passing through Aino villages occasionally, and now and then through Japanese fishing villages, the latter almost abandoned as the fishing season is nearly over. The fisheries of Yezo rival those of Newfoundland, yielding salmon, cod, herring, sardines, ?trepang or beche de mer, and an immense quantity of a huge ribband like sea weed, which is shipped to China in a dried state. Here it forms one of the many absurd delicacies which tickle the celestial palate.
Reached Ubutsu in time for a stroll through the village.
Left Ubutsu at 9 a.m., striking inland over plains of pumice which were often, however, clothed with grass and flowers, both reminding us forcibly (Page 80) of the prairies of the North West. In fact both the fauna and flora of this island bear a closer relationship to those of America than those of Asia. Leaving these low plains after 7 or 8 miles, we came upon elevated table lands clothed with forest through which we rode in the shade, and with a delightful breeze, to Chitoze, where we arrived a 1 p.m., and will remain till tomorrow.
After tiffin, went fishing. Caught only a few small trout, and a sort of roach which grunts loudly when taken out of the water.
Fleas awful at the tea house.
Left Chitoze at 8 a.m., and reached Satzporo about 5 p.m. 28 miles. Having ridden far ahead of our pack train we had no tiffin save a miserable Japanese one at a little tea house half way. Lathrop quite unwell with a severe attack of pemphigus which rather unfits him for the saddle. Country rolling and very heavily wooded.
This evening the vice Governor of Satzporo called to pay (Page 81) his respects, the Governor having gone to Hakodate.
Now for a first impression of Satzporo. It is situated in a clearing of the forest, partly natural and partly artificial, bears the distinctive marks of a new town, stumps in the streets etc. Work on the streets and houses is going on in every direction, with an activity that is wonderful in the East. Altogether the town reminds me of a new settlement in one of our Western states. Several small streams run through the town, which are tributary to the Ishcari, the largest river in the island. It is proposed to convert one of these into a canal, tapping the Ishcari, which will allow of boat navigation to the town. The country around is rich but utterly wild - I see nothing to make a town but that which is now doing it - viz a lavish expenditure of Govt. money. Why they did not locate the town upon the coast no-one but a Japanese can say. Without a harbour nearer than (Page 82) 20 miles, and that only a summer harbour without railroads in a country where snow falls eight feet deep. It is hard to understand the location of the new capital. It has now about 2000 people.
Met Gen. Capron calling on us today. he is at one of the Govt. hotels and we at the other. Sent for the Japanese doctors today and plunged into the consideration of plans for the new hospitals of which there are to be two.
Have been since last entry busy drawing plans for hospitals, finding suitable locations for the same, and generally arranging medical matters here. Lathrop quite sick, so much so that he has been unable to go about any, though we had promised ourselves both fishing and shooting.
Governor arrived last night. Called on us at once and invited us to a dinner at his house today. Dinner (Page 83) the usual stupid imitation of foreign style.
Went deer hunting today. Lathrop, by dint of much bandaging, managed to get into the saddle. Each had an Aino guide, and though we saw plenty of deer, as our guides were always ahead and the hunting is done on horseback, I got but one shot and missed. Having promised Webb a bear cub I bought one yesterday, rather older than I wished for but still quite tame.
Started this morning on our return journey which we intended to perform along the western coast, having come up on the eastern, but after making our tiffin station of Junibaki, 15 miles from Satzporo, Lathrop gave our and as the weather was pleasant we hired some boatmen and their little craft to row us to Otaru, the station for the night, which is a tolerably large (Page 84) town and where I could leave Lathrop, whose recovery is only a matter of time, in comparative comfort. On the way along the wild coast we were delighted to find a huge range of basaltic columns, like the Giants Causeway in Ireland, which we skirted so closely that we had full time to examine their wonderful structure (SE has included a pencil sketch of the columns at this point).
On arriving in sight of Otaru we were surprised and delighted to see a little steamer in port, bearing the dear old Stars and Stripes, and meeting the mate at the landing I learned from him that it was a steamer now under charter by the Japanese, but owned by an acquaintance of mine, and best of all, that she was to leave for Hakodate (Page 85) tomorrow. I soon hunted up the Captain and made arrangements for the passage of L., self and bear, sending the Japanese of the party with the bulk of the baggage overland, a journey which would have taken us seven days hard riding. I would have liked the overland trip had L. been well, but as if I had kept on I should have had no foreign company and as I was getting somewhat anxious about Frank and Webb, I decided to accompany L. on the steamer.
Otaru is a beautiful little town and should have been made the capital instead of Satzporo (at this point in the journal SE has included a small photograph of Otaru)
(Page 86)Aug. 10th
Today at ½ past 3 oclock arrived at Hakodate, much to Franks surprise. F. and W. both well and a huge mail just arrived.
The water being delightfully warm and the beach good near us, I have borrowed a tent, put it up for a bath house and F., Webb and self are hugely enjoying surf bathing. Plenty of surgery on hand. Am undertaking any and every operation that offers
At this point the entry ceases, and presumably SE did not continue his journal beyond that date, leaving about half of the pages in this second volume blank - HT
The End of the Stuart Eldridge Journals
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