October 13th to 16th 1871
Oct. 13th. Evening
Wrote several letters this morning, one to (Page 98) Bogue and one to Webb senior. I shall send your letters to his care and have written to him that he can read this journal if you are not in Chicago. This afternoon went with Mrs Baker, Mrs Dove and the Doctor to visit a large establishment not far from here run by the Government. It is a large alms house in reality, but in it they have solved the problem that has bothered our legislators, and have made their paupers a source of revenue instead of a cause of expense. All the inmates, from the children of six years old to the venerable old grand parents are employed at something. They manufacture silk, lacquer, cotton goods and jinrikshas. I bought two silk sashes, one for you and one for Lucy. In the loom room are two hundred women manufacturing the most exquisite fabrics on the most primitive looms (see sketch). There is also a manufactory of candles. These are made of a singular material and in a singular (Page 99) manner. The fat from which they are made is extracted from the fruit of the Rhus Succedanea, a tree of the same family as our sumack, by gentle heat. This vegetable fat closely resembles tallow in appearance, but is more glutinous. The wick is prepared of long threads of the pith of a rush which are wrapped spirally around a stick about as big as a lead pencil, and brought to a point over its end. A workman seated in front of an earthen bowl of the fat, which is heated enough to make it soft and sticky, takes one of the sticks with a wick on it with his right hand and with the left gives it a coat of fat, sets it one side to harden and repeats the operation till the candle has attained the desired size. Then the stick is withdrawn leaving an air passage through the centre of the wick which secures a more perfect combustion than would otherwise happen. In their usual inverted style of doing things, the upper end of the candle is the largest (See sketch of candle maker). It is from another tree of the (Page 100) same family as the tallow tree, the Rhus Vernicefera, that the celebrated Japanese lacker (or lacquer) varnish is obtained by making incisions in the trunk from which a gum flows, white at first but afterward turning black as jet.
Wasson got back from Yokohama tonight while we were at dinner, and looked unutterably surprised when he walked in and saw us cosily seated at the table with two elegant and handsome ladies. I think his first idea was that by some mysterious means our wives had suddenly reached Japan.
Oct. 14th. Evening
We started in a carriage this morning to see Asaksa and Weno. Dr and Mrs Dove, Mrs Baker and Wasson and myself. Wasson on horseback, by the way, and not in the carriage. The General had an engagement to go and give his opinion on some imported cattle and so did not join us till later in the day. At Asaksa we saw the Japanese waxwork of which I gave a description in a previous chapter, shot with bows and arrows at targets, and wandered through the temples. I forgot to say that (Page 101) on our way to Asaksa our driver ran in to a horse and we smashed a wheel, so we got into jinrikshas, ladies and all. I succeeded in getting some of an improved pattern just introduced which have a third wheel behind to prevent tilting up, as happened to me one day. It was the ladies first ride in such a vehicle and I can assure you that it was a funny sight to see the magnificent and dignified Mrs Baker in a large sized baby wagon drawn by a coolie stark naked apart from his breech clout. They conveyed us safely to Asaksa, and before we left there our driver arrived with another carriage in which we drive to Weno, where, according to my order, given before leaving home, we found our cook and waiter with an elaborate tiffin brought from home, and we pic-niced in an open tea house overlooking the city having been joined by the General on our arrival at Weno.
After tiffin we went and saw the Daibutz described a few pages back, went through (Page 102) the temples and then came home. Mrs Baker and her daughters amused themselves this evening in fringing your sash for which you can thank them when you see them. By the way, Mrs Baker boarded at Miss Johnsons on (illegible word) for a few days while we were there. Remembers Mollie Whiting and the rest. Isnt it funny how people meet?
Oct. 15th. Evening
Today was quiet, and with the exception of a short jinriksha ride in the evening, was spent in the house. We feel quite dismayed at the thought that the ladies return tomorrow to Yokohama. They have made themselves so pleasant that they seem like old friends.
Kuroda hasnt made his appearance yet, so contracts are not yet signed.
Oct. 16th. Evening
Went shopping with the ladies in jinrikshas this morning. Visited a lot of second hand shops as it is in these that the best curiosities are usually found. I bought a few things and would have bought more but my money ran out, for I (Page 103) took but little with me for two reasons. I expected temptation and I had but little cash. I have drawn no pay as yet since my arrival.
Our company left us today after tiffin. Hereafter when I go to Yokohama I shant have to go to the hotel and shall have a decent place to spend my evenings. I am glad to have the acquaintance of nice persons both for my own sake and my wifes.
End of this section
Part 16 17th to 23rd October 1871
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