26th to 31st January 1872

Jan. 20th. Evening
Worked till three o’clock and then rode up to House’s place to meet Shepard there, and dined with House and had a pleasant evening’s entertainment in listening to our host’s reminiscences of American litterateurs whom he has known.

Jan. 21st. Evening
Sunday. So read in the morning, and as it was a lovely day, took a long afternoon walk with Jondon. As my walking shoes have given out, and (Page 182) I have in vain tried to get a comfortable pair in Yokohama, I think that tomorrow I shall send and get a pair of English army shoes which I saw in a Japanese store this afternoon, costing the immense sum of $1.75.
I have just had a delicious bath and sit writing in my panjaninias (sic) and dressing gown, feeling exceedingly comfortable. I have adopted the Japanese custom of hot baths, not merely warm, but hot. They are much pleasanter, and I believe in this climate healthier than either the tepid or cold bath. These people know how to bathe comfortably, and do so daily. I said I was sitting in my panjaninias. These are the universal night clothes among foreigners in the East. They are a pair of very loose and long trousers and an equally loose short sack or jacket, in winter of flannel, in summer of silk, linen or cotton, and by far the most comfortable night gear I have ever used. In this damp, rheumatic climate flannel has hygienic recommendations which are enough to ensure its speedy adoption by the newly arrived. Today is the 21st, and as the mail leaves on the 24th, and must go from here the day before, all of our party are pretty busy closing up their correspondence.

(Page 183) Jan. 22nd. Evening.
The mail goes down tomorrow morning. Have been at work all day on official letters and in closing up my private letters, so have nothing in particular to say here save that today a poor fellow whom I have been treating for some time and whom I have benefited considerably, brought me a gift or "Sinjoo" as an acknowledgement of my services. It was a piece of lacker, pretty but of little value, and a fine old bronze representing a deer with some mythological character seated on his back. The lacker is, I fear, a poor investment, for even that which is hundreds of years old warps and cracks when exposed to the air of our rooms, so much hotter and dryer than that of the Japanese houses. The Japanese bronzes are beautiful, the most valuable ones being inlaid with patterns of gold and silver. For this kind, especially if antique, enormous prices are demanded. In fact, age is the greatest recommendation for articles of virtue, here as elsewhere.

(Page 184) Jan. 23rd. Evening.
The mail went down this morning, and I suppose by this time is speeding over the broad Pacific. Now comes the dreary time of the month between the departure and reception of the mails. Have been at work all day as usual. Had long talk with Antisell today. Both of us are feeling disgusted and discouraged with Capron’s outrageous mismanagement of affairs. I am very glad that my contract is independent of him, for the Japanese are beginning to find out what an old fraud he is. If our party accomplishes anything it will be without Capron’s help and perhaps even in spite of him. I am awfully afraid that that other old goosey, Mrs C., may take it into her foolish old pate to come out. I think two of them would be too much for endurance.
Have just returned from a long walk in the frosty moonlight with Antisell. It is clear, dry, cold weather such as I had no expectation of meeting here. It is in fact the perfection of winter weather and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

(Page 185) Jan. 24th. Evening
Day spent quietly at work. Started out for a long walk at 4 o’clock. Found a new street with many curio shops, but although I resisted temptation manfully for myself, seeing an article of which I knew Jondon was in search, I ordered it sent to his house tomorrow morning, and concluded to take him on my way home so as to tell him of it. I tired a short cut through a labyrinth of danios yashikis, or palaces, which surround the Mikado’s palace, and got awfully tangled up. These yashikis are long rows of buildings, as much like each other as are two Philadelphia blocks, and in addition there were the contorted and numerous moats continually barring my "short cut". Well, the upshot was that I resolved to walk it out instead of calling in one of the ubiquitous jinrikshas. I arrived tired and hungry at Jondon’s late in the evening, and made a demand for some dinner, which I got, and after a cigar came home. I think that tonight’s work finished the survey of Yedo as far as I am concerned. I believe I can now find my way like a native.

(Page 186) Jan. 25th. Evening
Worked till 3 p.m. then started out to look for Japanese articles that can be made available as furniture. The Japanese New Year is rapidly approaching, and as the people have an ancient custom which has the force of a law, that on New Year’s day every man must have all his debts or else suspend business, now is the time to get bargains. "Alarming Sacrifice", "Selling out to Close Business" etc. I bought for less than ten dollars an exquisite carved and lacquered cabinet, which generally even here would sell for twenty, and is worth even more.

Jan. 26th. Evening.
Unusually cold weather for this region. For several days the foreigners at Yokohama have had skating - something which they have not enjoyed for five years before. Today we have had a regular snow storm, and tonight the snow lies four inches deep. As I look out of my room over the ground of Shiba, the trees in which are almost without exception evergreen, I wonder if nature has any sight more beautiful than a green forest loaded with snow.

(Page 187) Jan. 27th. Evening.
A quiet day. Spent in the house as the melting snow has made it too sloppy to be pleasant for either walking or riding. Yokohama and Yedo, at last the foreign population at the two places have had something that is quite rare, a sensation, and as the cause was rather a singular one. Heretofore the Mikado’s likeness has never been taken, at least, no-one has ever seen one, but some time ago His Majesty went to visit and inspect the Govt. dry dock at Yokosha, twenty miles below Yokohama. An enterprising German photographer in the latter place, Stillfried by name, applied for leave to photograph the Emperor and suite, a request which was politely but firmly refused. Nevertheless, Stillfried was at Yokosha, as were many other foreigners, anxious to catch a glimpse of the Emperor, and managed get a view which included His Majesty, but as the Imperial head moved during the stolen exposure, his serene countenance appeared a mere blur. Stillfried, however, printed many copies from the negative, advertised them in the Yokohama papers, and had the imprudence to write to the officials at Yedo that he had a picture of the Mikado (Page 188) that it was very poor but that he should sell it unless they secured him a sitting from the Emperor! The officials very properly took notice of the matter only by applying to the Austrian minister who was the representative of Stillfried’s country. The Minister remonstrated with Stillfried without effect, and then ordered the English consul, who is also acting as consul for Austria, to seize the negatives and pictures. This was done, and then arose an outburst of indignation at the outrage (!) mainly from the English. Considering how sacred the Mikado’s person has been, and is, considered by the natives and the peculiarly insulting conduct of the photographer, most of the foreigners, myself included, think it is a pity that more than simple confiscation could not be inflicted.

Jan. 28th. Evening
The Sabbath, so read all day save that I took a walk this evening with Antisell. The Genl. and Warfield out to dinner, so the Prof. and I sat long at the table talking unreservedly of old times in Washington (for it seems a dreadfully long time ago that we left there) and of our friends there.

(Page 189) Jan. 29th. Evening.
Work and study all the morning, and a ride for exercise in the afternoon. Preparations for the great yearly festival are apparent everywhere. the toy and confection shops are crowded with goods and customers. The children all look expectant and the parents are met carrying mysterious bundles. In short, it reminds me strikingly of home during the week before Christmas. Our usual monthly anxious expectancy of the mail is beginning, for it may be looked for any time after tomorrow, though hardly likely to arrive before the 2nd or 3rd.

Jan. 30th. Evening.
Rode out this afternoon and in a little shop found the most exquisite curiosity I have seen in Japan. It is of pure silver and consists of a handsomely chased pedestal about 2 inches and an inch high upon which standing upon a rough rock are two of the tortoises of Japanese mythology, differing from nature in having prominent ears and a long fringed appendage around the posterior part of the shell. The work is exquisite, but the value of the article, as an illustration of old Japan, only becomes apparent on removing the top of the pedestal when a small compass appears, surrounded by little compartments, 12 in number (Page 190), in each of which lies a little figure of the Japanese Zodiac. These figures, like all the rest of the article, are of pure silver, and although barely a quarter of an inch long are perfect miniature statuettes of the animals they represent, and are all chased, not cast. Altogether, it is one of the most beautiful works of art imaginable, and I got it for less than the weight of silver, viz. at $6.50. The Japanese Zodiac differs somewhat from our own, the signs being the Rat, Bull, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Cock, Dog and Boar. Hariki told me a little story this evening apropos the leading place occupied by the rat. "When the Zodiac was divided" (by whom I could not learn) " the rate and bull disputed for the first place, each claiming to be the larger. They finally agreed that they would take a walk together and divide the matter by the remarks that they heard made. Now the rat was unusually large, for a rat, and everyone they met cried out at once "Oh, what a big rat". So the rat got the first place, having outwitted the bull by his cunning". None of the Japs to whom I have showed my zodiac have ever seen one like it.

(Page 191) Jan. 31st. Evening
Nothing new today. Work and study till four o’clock, and then a long walk with Hariki.

Part 27

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