September 9th and 10th 1871

Sept. 9th 1871
11pm. Our grand dinner is over. At three o’clock, after fussing all morning over a mowing machine, we jerked ourselves into our pigeon tails, dug up some white kids - at least that was what I did. From among the glove rubbish at the top of my trunk I picked out two that would do, one to wear and one to carry, got in to our carriage and started for Hamago Ten. Our carriage contained also the Governor and Deputy Governor of Yesso, an interpreter and the officers of the guard, and was therefore pretty heavily loaded, and as a consequence, in turning a sharp corner quickly, smashed a wheel and let us down. The horse stopped, we all got out, looked foolish, and the interpreter ran for jinrikshas. He found some quickly and (Page 35) in these humble vehicles we reached our destination to be rec’d by the gentlemen who were awaiting us with many polite expressions of great regret for our accident and apology for the worthlessness of the carriage.
The building at Hamago Ten was erected some years ago for the special purpose of interviews with foreigners. It is a long one story building containing forty or fifty rooms including dining halls, parlors etc. It is built in our style, much like a large plantation residence in the South, having broad verandahs and a large central hall, but decorated in the most beautiful style of Japanese art, although the rich furniture and carpets are foreign. The reception room has its walls painted with immense fans in the most brilliant gilding and color, each fan presenting some picture of Japanese life. The succeeding rooms are painted with pictures of hunting and hawking, some of which are beautiful as a dream. Back of the house begin the grounds of the park which was originally built to afford fishing for the Tycoons (Page 36) .
These grounds contain four or five hundred acres and I will attempt to tell you of what we saw as we went through them before the dinner was served. At first glance, one is struck by the picturesquely distorted character of the trees which has all the appearance of nature and is yet, on close inspection, evidently the result of art. The ground contains many deeps and large fishing ponds, the earth taken from which has been used in the construction of numerous mounds, terraces etc. among which wind paths of coarse sand kept without a weed or blade of grass on their surface. Now you pass through a clump of camellias, some of the trees of which are forty feet high; now by a high camphor tree, its trunk at least three feet through; now under a long arbour of wisteria, with clusters of purple flowers three feet long; now the path is hedged on both sides with dwarf bamboo; now through a vista in the shrubbery you catch a glimpse of the beautiful bay of Yedo, dotted with sails, and green as emerald. Again, embowered in shrubbery, an exquisite (Page 37) summer house invites you to repose on its soft mats from which you can perhaps drop a line to the scaly inhabitants from the rippling lake that bathes its base. Again, crossing a long rustic bridge, shaded through its whole length by living vines you find yourself in the centre of a lake upon a little gem of an island in the midst of which nestles a pavilion that would have been a fit residence for Titania. At length, after climbing a small hill, you stand on top of "Little FujiYama" and the view of the bay breaks upon you in all the glory of the deep. This Little Fujiyama is a model of the famous volcanic mountain which, standing forty miles inland from Yokohama, is still in clear weather the most beautiful object in the world when it suddenly appears to the tired voyager, still a hundred miles from its base. About 15,000 feet in height, its crest is nearly always capped with snow and its base wrapped in cloud. No wonder that the Japanese have named it "Fuji-Yama" - the peerless mountain, and that is appears in all their art, or even that somewhat of a sacred character (Page 38) attaches to it. I enclose a sketch form a native drawing (there is no copy of the sketch in the journals - HT).
But I have digressed from our dinner. After our trip through the grounds, we returned to find that all the highest officials of the Empire, except the Mikado and the Prime Minister had arrived, the latter sending a polite letter to the effect that he was forbidden by his physician to come out. We were introduced all round, thanked many times for coming to Japan, replied as politely, and then dinner was announced by a servant who took the position enclosed. As for the meal itself, it was far beyond anything I have ever seen of the kind. The table was loaded with plate and crystal, yet in perfect taste. Everything was served Parisian style though all by Japanese servants, the cook also being a Jap. The wines were in great variety and superb. As we had two interpreters conversation did not flag and we really enjoyed ourselves socially as it was not at all stiff. As a delicate compliment, one of the center pieces bore the stripes and stars grouped with the official and personal flag of the Emperor. I enclose these. The round figure (Page 39) is the official coat of arms of the Mikado. The other his family coat. I have taken the staff from the flags for convenience sake. Please preserve them as I value them highly. Of late years almost all the officials and others of rank have adopted our convenient way of wearing the hair and nearly all present were among this number. They were dressed in Japanese style in plain or modest colors, but in such silks as would drive you mad. About the middle of the dinner the Prime Minister made his appearance in full dress of ceremony, wearing the hat which, a few years ago, it was the height of ill manners for a Japanese nobleman to doff in company. Of course, his coming under the circumstances was a great compliment. Indeed, we endeavoured to make him feel that we appreciated it. He is a mere boy in appearance, but already a grandfather. I enclose as good a sketch as I can make from memory. To enumerate the dishes would be useless, but as I send you a bill of fare you will see that they were numerous and good. We were four hours at table, from 5 to 9, and then adjourned to coffee and conversation (Page 40) in the drawing room. I had a long talk with the Minister of Foreign Affairs about medicine and the duty of the state in matters pertaining thereto. I did not fail to lay some pipe for myself in this connection. About half past ten we bid them good night and I came home having thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. The gentlemen present were (I have reproduced this list as accurately as I can, given the sometimes poorly legible carbon copy from which I have taken it. Japanese readers may forgive any inaccuracies that may be only too evident to them -HT).

His Excellency Sandzo Udaidin Prime Minister

" Kido Sange Chancellor

" Ookuma Sangi "

" Ettagaki Sangi "

" Ewakfura Gainukiyo Minister for Foreign Affairs

" Terasima Gaimutanu Vice minister for Foreign Affairs

" Ogi Minbukayo Minister of Interior

" Higashi Kude Kaitakutsirkan

Governor of Yesso and part of Saghalien

" Kuroda Kaitakudzikan Vice governor of ditto

Ooyama Kaitafu Kandzi Esq. An officer of Yesso

Eshibashi Gonshodio Esq. Secretary, dept. Foreign affairs. Interpreter.

Tendah Senya Esq. Interpreter.

Tersima, vice-minister, announced that the Commission would be presented to the Mikado, or rather, Tenno, on the 16th at 10.00am, and presented a copy of the Mikado’s speech on the occasion with pan of building where interview is to take place. The Tenno’s speech is as follows.

Having been informed that you have perfect scientific knowledge and experiments of agriculture and that you occupy the position of Chief of the Department of Agriculture in the United States, I have invited you to my country from America in order to engage you to take charge of the measures for agriculture on the island Yezo in supporting the high authorities there. In complying my desire you will cooperate and lead them to success. I feel sure you will perform meritorious duties

Click here to see Eldridge’s plan of the building.

Click here to see the Tenno’s Speech in Eldridge’s hand writing.

(Page 43) Sept. 10th Evening

This morning I was busy in closing up the official mail with which I sent my private letters by special messenger to Yokohama at noon. It being Sunday, no work on the job was done. Today learned from the General that the Govt. propose putting up buildings in Yezo for the Ag. Dept. including Depot Building, Ag. College, and residences for employees. It looks as though we may start for Yezo soon after our interview with the Mikado. This afternoon all hands were employed in getting of the Genl’s speech in answer to that of the Mikado. Had hard work to keep him from assuming the position of an envoy from the U.S. instead of a servant of the Emperor of Japan.
After duly getting up this important document Prof. Antisell and I took a walk to the top of Ah-tango Yama, a small hill in rear of our residence. This is very steep and is ascended by two flights of 100 stone steps bordered with a dilapidated but once very substantial stone balustrade. These steps are very ancient and once formed the approach to a temple on the hill of which nothing now remains but a few old stone lanterns and a shrine. Arrived at the top of (Page 44) the hill. The view richly repaid us for the severe climb as we could see almost all of Yedo and its bay, lying all around us. We were forcibly struck with the fact that large as Yedo is, it is so openly built that its population must be greatly overestimated. That part lying between our post of observation and the bay seemed tolerably closely built, that beyond it rather a collection of villages and suburbs than a city. From Ah-tango Yama on a clear day a fine view of Fuji Yama can be had. After taking a cup of tea at one of several open tea-arbors, which are on the summit and are presided over by laughing blacked eyed Hebes we returned home by a round about path, stopping to admire an old but very fine specimen of the peculiar arch of these people, built of stone in apparent imitation of wood (see sketch) (this sketch is included in the journal - HT), and to examine the process of engraving wood blocks for printing at a small shop by the road side. The Japanese put their children out at work very young. Here were two boys aged about 10 or 12, busily engaged in preparing the blocks roughly, for their father’s more careful manipulation (Page 45). The grain of the wood of these blocks appeared to run transversely to than usual with us. The father, evidently a skilful workman, was seated, naked save a breech clout, working upon his knee which, as well as his thumb, was guarded by folds of cloth. Passing a carpenter’s shop, I was reminded of what I have often noticed before, viz. that the tools all work the reverse way from our own. The saws and planes all cut by pulling towards the workman. The tools, with few exceptions, are far inferior to ours, but the men accomplish work in a finished manner that few of our mechanics could equal. One tool, corresponding to the chalk line of our joiners, seems to be in some respects worthy of imitation. It consists of a reel and string, but fixed in a shoe shaped frame, the hollow of which contains a spongy material saturated with colouring matter through which the line is drawn as unwound from the reel. It seems to me that the chalk of our carpenters might be similarly disposed (see sketch of tools)

HT’s footnote: many of the sketches to which SE refers in this section are not present in his journals, having presumably been sent to his wife and not copied. However, there are some charming and skilfully executed examples that remain loose in the journals and I will endeavour in time to copy these into a web page. Any reader eager to see examples at this time should e-mail me.

End of this section.

Part 6 Sept 11th, 12th 1871

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