4th September 1871

With this date I resume my letter today, although I have written something almost every day. Still, I haven’t caught up, and as I have no notes at hand as to what happened each day I will jot down what has taken place since our arrival up to today, without references to days , and try to keep my journal promptly up hereafter. I believe that I wandered off from an enumeration of our household to a dissertation in Japanese writing, so I will begin where I digressed. After Hariki came the servants of whom there are three for the personal service of the Commission. One of these, Yasokichi, has been taken under the special charge of Warfield, who laughs at and with him (Page 17) the whole day long, for Yasokichi is the merriest little chap in the world, though he tried to look solemn when he sat for his portrait enclosed (here S E appears to refer to a sketch he may have made. at the time of making this transcription I have found to trace of this - HT). Beside the men enumerated there is a host of errand boys, grooms etc. so that our household numbers about fifty persons. The first two days after our arrival we went nowhere, being glad to rest in our delightful quarters undisturbed. In the evening of the second day an English made carriage was driven in the yard and we were informed that the Govt. had purhased it especially for our use and that it was hereafter at our disposal. The next day Mr Kuroda called with several other officials and brought mineral specimens and other samples of the resources of Yesso. After examining these, in the determination of the food articles of which my Woods Nat. History came splendidly into play, we took a drive to the Yedo Hotel, kept by a French man, where we found several acquaintances of the voyage.
In the afternoon Dr Antisell and myself accompanied by our indispensible good Hariki and the guard, wandered through (Page 18) the main temple building of Dzo Jorge. There is one particular structure of great size of the peculiar architecture of which I despair of giving any idea without photographs, which I hope to obtain soon as there are several native Japanese photographers here. The gilding, carving and bronze work of the interior is beautiful beyond description. Back of the main building, in small enclosures, placed in beautiful and very large bronze urns, rest the ashes of the defunct Tycoons. We visited only two of these although there are many. In fact we took but a hasty glance at the beauties of the temple, intending to visit it at some future time.
Yesterday we were notified that a number of horses were outside the gate under the trees waiting our selection, so we adjourned to a splendid avenue nearby, the servants bringing out chairs and there in the shade of some splendid pines we drank tea, ate sweetmeats and smoked while the grooms exercised some 30 spirited ponies. At last we selected four - two of them beautiful long tailed blacks about the size and style of Little Dick. Japanese horses are abominably (Page 19), or rather they are deliberately taught bad habits. So thinking it easier to teach an untaught horse than to change old habits, the pony I selected for myself is almost unbroken, althought the finest horse of the lot. The rest of our party are a little afraid of him although he is by no means vicious - only ignorant. His tail almost sweeps the ground and he is black as night.
After our lunch, at 1 o’clock, Antisell, Warfield and I took the carriage and went to see another temple about 5 miles from here, in the heart of the city. This was much like the Dzo Jorge, but larger, and close by it was a genuine pagoda such as the old geographic always gave a picture of under the head of China. In the immediate neighbourhood of the temple are all sorts of places of amusement, especially booths for archery and blow-gun shooting, where every lucky shot either draws a prize or causes the appearance of some amusing picture. These are presided over by girls attached to the temple, who, they do say, are no better than they should be and who greet the passer by (Page 20) with polite and musical invitations to walk in and try their various amusements. Then there are juggler shows, wild animals etc. and all surrounded by a laughing and good natured crowd of sight-seers. Our guide Horé invited us to enter a large establishment decorated with gay banners and lanterns. We did so,Horé paying for us at the door at the rate of one bu each (about 27 ˝ cents). Inside was without exception, the most admirable show of wax work I have aver seen. I say wax work because it gave an idea of the character of the exhibition. Not a particle of wax, however, entered into the composition of the figures which were paper throughout except their clothing, hair etc. We all agreed that we had never seen anything so life like. Antisell and myself expecially wondering at the correctness of the anatomy. The collection of figures numbered at least 100, arranged in groups of two or more figures, representing some historical or mythological scene (Page 21). It is a little curious that people who so studiedly (sic) distort the human figure in most of their drawings should model so exquisitely. The hands and feet of the figures are especially life like, but the whole is so well done that when I saw the first group not knowing what I was to expect I actually thought it a tableau vivant.
After seeing this Yedo Mrs Farley’s we went with Horé to a high toned tea house where we were ushered in to an upstairs room surrounded by a balcony on two sides and overlooking a broad canal upon which gaily decorated boats containing pleasure parties were passing and re-passing the further bank of the canal being overhung by large trees and dotted with picturesque cottages. Here we reclined on soft mats and looked at the marvellous performances of a troupe of jugglers called for our amusement, while we were served by gaily dressed moozmis (girls) with sweetmeats and tea. Some of these girls were really beautiful and graceful, evidently much higher in social rank than those we had seen in Yokohama. The young ladies prodused 3 stringed guitars (Page 22) pending the appearance of dinner and entertained us with music and singing of the quality of which I can say little in praise save that it was infinitely superior to Chinese performances of the same kind.
When dinner finally appeared the first course consisted of a fish soup which was delicate and highly appreciated by the whole party. Then came some sort of lobster in a kind of sea weed, the latter boiled. Then two or three kinds of fish and soups with rice wine served hot and tea ad libitum. I won the commendation of our fair entertainers by the admirable way I handled my chop sticks in disposing of the solid food, the rest of the party being unable to get the hang of them and exciting much laughter by their awkward efforts. It seemed to be considered a delicate attention by one of the fair damsels to squat down along side of you and feed you with the most delicate morsels. I submitted with a good grace, but a frolicsome red cheeked lass who had got hold of Antisell had a laughable struggle with the old gentleman to induce him to bite at her offered chop (Page 23) sticks.
During the dinner we had dancing by two celebrated dancing girls. This dancing was simply deliberate and graceful posturing to the sound of a low chant with guitar accompaniment.
About 8 o’clock we started for home. Two cavalrymen with lanterns rode ahead of the carriage, ejaculating orders to the people to clear the way. The streets looked like one great torchlight procession, so full were they of people carrying gaily coloured paper lanterns. As our interpreter had partaken rather freely of saki (rice wine) he was asleep all the way home, although not so drunk as to be entirely stupid and we had little chance to ask questions. Arrived home about half past 9. We found the general in a fume about us, thinking we had been assassinated or gobbled up. Today (Sept 5th or 4th, I don’t know which) I got out my horse, had him saddled with my California saddle and took a ride. I think I can make a good horse out of him though he is woefully green, and seriously endangered the limbs of several. By the way, apropos of children, I haven’t heard a child (Page 24) more than twice since I have been in Japan. They are the most good natured little things in the world. Indeed, good nature seems to be a national characteristic.
We have been gradually unpacking our goods since arrival with the expectation of a part of our furniture and all of our table supplies which we shall take to Yesso with us when we go. While hearing every day some allusion to our going to Yesso we can not find out when we are going. If they don’t let us go soon I fear but little can be accomplished this year there. If only I had you here I could be perfectly content. Yasokichi has just brought me my evening cup of tea and I will bid you good bye until tomorrow.

Part 3 September 5th 1871

Return to Home Page