October 24th to 27th 1871

Oct. 24th. Evening
Wrote all morning on official business and after tiffin went out for a jinriksha ride with Wasson. They have jinrikshas here now which are much improved over those of which I wrote and sent a sketch shortly after I got here. They are suggested by the sketch. I like better to go shopping in them than in the carriage or on horse back for they are so convenient to stop and alight from. Would you like a shopping scene which took place yesterday? Remember that these Jap merchants invariably ask more than they mean to take and that they rather like a chaffering customer. I am riding along in my jinriksha when in a quiet, unpretending shop a large and handsome lacquer box catches my eye, which I think would look well in our parlour. (Page 110) I sing out "maté jinriksha!" ("wait jinriksha!") and my jinriksha stops. I alight and address the shop keeper who is squatted cross legged and smoking, in the following euphonious language, "Koré wa ikura?" ("How much is this?"). He answers, after considering for a moment what I will give "Jiu ni rio" ("Twelve rios" - about fourteen dollars). I look surprised and indignant and ejaculate "Taksan, taksan!" (Too much, too much!") He remarks, as nearly as my limited knowledge of Japanese enables me to understand, that the box in question is one of a pair which are sold together at the above named price, that it is very fine and was part of the plunder of the Tycoon’s palace, during the last war, all of which I know to be true for I see that the quality is very good and the boxes bear the Tycoon’s well known arms, three heart shaped leaves in a circle, which no man would in old times have dared to put on anything - not the personal property of the Tycoon, and now dare not use at all. I examine the boxes, look a little disappointed, and offer him "Jiu rio" ("Ten rios"). The merchant vigorously responds "Jiye, jiye" ("No, no") and I turn to go but have not gone ten feet before (Page 111) I hear the merchant call out "Yoro shi" ("Very good", used in Japan as equivalent to our "All right") and return to tell him "Kono shiba motokoi" (Send these to Shiba (our residence) and I am the happy possessor of two superb lacquer cases, with gold plated corners, a relic of the dethroned which, when they come home, the General offers me $25.00 each for, and which our Jap officials assert to be worth 50 rios each and for which I paid about $11.50, that is, $5.75 each. They will be beautiful pieces of furniture. Well, having spent all that, I think I ought too for the day. I tell my jinriksha man "Shiba, jigini!" ("Shiba, and hurry!) and rattle home just in time to meet the doctor who was surgeon of the America when we came, with a party of friends, hunting for our quarters. They cannot stay to dinner, but after a short call say ‘good day’, then comes dinner at 7 p.m. and the usual evening of employment of writing, reading and study, and, save the writing my journal, the day is over.
One thing more, and it is a little singular that I almost forgot (Page 112) it. We had an earthquake shock today. It occurred just before dinner while I was lying on the lounge in my room. It lasted perhaps three seconds and seemed to be a trembling of the earth which made the timber of the house creak and set the water in our wash bowls vibrating. It was much such a motion as takes place in a house near a rail road on the passage of a train. There have been several slight shocks before since I have been in Japan, but they occurred at night and did not wake any of us.

Oct. 25th. Evening.
Quiet work and study all morning. Jondon and Herron and a Mr Pearson of Yokohama dined with us and we had a very pleasant time. Just after we left the table a messenger arrived with our mail. Letters for me from my wife, Hawley Weber, my mother, Mr Russell and a Mr Hayden of the Indian Bureau who makes the modest request that I send him a collection of Japanese coins.

Oct. 26th. Evening.
Went horseback riding this afternoon with Wasson and (Page 113) the General, my foot having so far recovered that I can wear a boot. Just after we got started, Haríki came running after us with the information that Mr Adams, the acting English minister, was coming to call on the General, so the latter turned back. Wasson and I rode on to the place where I bought my lacquer boxes, and the old merchant escorted us to a place where they had, in a little back room, a superb collection of lacquered articles, all from the Tycoon’s palace. It is a complete set of toilet articles for a Japanese princess and comprises over one hundred and fifty pieces, all exquisite and some very large. Here the General joined us again, and as the merchant would only sell the set as a whole, at a price of $300.00, neither Wasson nor I could touch them, though there were several things among the number that we wanted. The General offered $250.00 for the lot and the merchant wishing time to consider it, we left. The General went home and Wasson and I pursued our researches further into a quarter of town we had never before visited. Stopping at a very modest shop, the old lady who was in charge beckoned us through several winding (Page 114) passages into a little back room which contained a collection of curious even finer than the one we had just see, including ancient armour etc. We were soon joined by the merchant himself who invited us to visit another store room in which he said he had some very choice articles. It was only a few doors off and upstairs. This ware room seemed to be a sort of special deposit bank in which the neighbouring merchants deposited their most valuable articles, and some of the goods were superb. The most exquisite silver work, lacquer and bronzes were here that I have ever seen. Wasson bought a few articles to take home, but I resisted temptation like a man, thinking of a certain silk dress that must be bought yet.
This evening arrived three boxes of California pears, sent by a friend of the General’s with a request that he present a portion to the Tenno. We picked out a hundred and fifty of the best and have been feasting ourselves and our household on the remainder. I gave Mr Kuroda some specially fine ones, telling him to present them to Mrs K. with my compliments, which caused our Japs much amusement but evidently pleased Mr Kuroda.

(Page 115) Oct. 27th. Evening.
Rain till four o’clock today. Wrote and studied in consequence all the morning. Was notified that the proposition for establishing a system for collecting and exchange with Europe was favourably acted on, and the Japanese wish me to prepare the necessary instructions to collection and observers, and also that for American and European societies and institutions. No small job.
Our officials appear to have a very high opinion of me for some reason I can’t fathom, and have insisted in placing me on a higher salary than Wasson, which was finally settled , mainly to my exertions, not by putting my pay down, but by raising his to an equal figure. He has, however, a much less liberal contract as to duties etc., and no such definite promise for promotion as mine contains.
Wasson and myself rode out this evening around the outer margin of the Mikado’s grounds. It is simply glorious.

End of this section

Part 18

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