16th September 1871 -

The Account of the Presentation to the Emperor of Japan

Sept. 16th
The great ceremony of Presentation to the Tenno (Page 56) took place this morning according to programme. At 9 o’clock an officer with whom we have had some relations before, Mr. Horé (not the Horé with us as officer of the guard) made his appearance with a close carriage belonging to the Tenno, to conduct us to his presence. Horé was gaily dressed in court costume of the lower grade of Yakonino (officials), his apparel consisting of enormously wide trousers and robe of pink silk trimmed with heavy white silk cord, and a peculiarly shaped silk cap, like that of Mr. Punch reversed. Save in the color, this was the costume worn by all the lower officials present at the ceremony (see sketch). We were escorted by a full company of cavalry, and on our way to the palace, about a mile north of our residence, we found guards stationed at every cross street to prevent the intrusion of the people who were gathered at such places in crowds to see the procession. All guards presented arms as we passed. The palace of the Tenno with its grounds is enclosed in three fold wall. Between the outer and the middle wall is a portion of the city; between the middle and inner the offices of the various departments of the Govt., and within the inner the various buildings of the (Page 57) Tenno’s own residence and the magnificent grounds surrounding them At each wall and at many other places, large guards equipped as at review were placed to do us honour, presenting arms as we drove by.
Arrived at the inner gate we dismounted amid a flourish of trumpets, and leaving our escort pursued our way on foot, guided by Horé and several officers who met us. Of the beauty of the grounds no words can convey any idea. Our vaunted Central Park may, in the course of many years equal it, but I doubt it. In the course of our walk of about a mile through the grounds we saw every variety of landscape gardening. On the right as we entered opened a long, deep ravine; at the bottom a beautiful lake and in the distance, crossing it, an airy bridge. A little further on opened a beautiful park dotted with clumps of picturesque shrubbery. The we passed through a grove of the wonderfully beautiful pines of Japan. Very different from our pines, these trees, which reach an enormous size, branch low and widely, and then, with their red-brown trunks and branches, and dark green feathery foliage are beautiful indeed. Passing the grove we filed through a tortuous walk among irregular mounds covered with graceful bamboo (Page 58) in many varieties. When this turned to the right and left appeared now scenes of beauty leaving one to imagine that what we were seeing was but a small part of the wonders of the place. Lakes, streamlets, rockwork waterfalls, long vistas of semitropical vegetation were passed in such numbers that my memory refuses to retain them all.
At last, after walking about a mile through this lovely scene, we reached a large summer house, many of which we had already passed throughout the grounds. Here we were met by a number of the highest officials of the Empire, including those, or most of those, who were present at the state dinner we attended not long ago. We found this summer house provided with a small table and divans covered with the heaviest silk damask. Here we were seated and presented with tea in tiny blue and white cups. After waiting ten minutes the Prime Minister arrived and his taking the seat at the head of the table was the signal for the attendants to place before each of us a box of sweetmeats about a foot square. These we were to admire but not to touch. Five minutes more and we were notified that His Majesty was ready to receive us. Leaving the building, escorted by the whole party of high mightinesses who were clad in plain colours but of the most wonderful (Page 59) richness of material and wore the little lacker cap already mentioned, as a part of the Prime Minister’s dress on another occasion; we took our way through new scenes of beauty to a still smaller summer house, about an eighth of a mile from the first. I should have mentioned that before leaving the latter each of the Japanese encased his feet in a pair of clumsy leather shoes, made like ours in covering the foot, and not like the Japanese shoes in everyday use - mere sandals held on as well as possible by a mere cord between the toes. Well, arrived at the smaller house the first indication of the presence of majesty was a superb white and crimson curtain drawn from the rear of the house to a knoll near by. We had walked to this point from the other house, hat in hand . While the Japanese divested themselves of their shoes we scraped out boots on a scraper placed for our especial use, and on ascending two steps found ourselves facing the Tenno who sat at the further end of a room perhaps twenty feet long and fifteen feet wide, open towards the grounds. It was so sudden that in spite of a line of officials on either side, and the altogether eastern magnificence of the little room, we could hardly realise that we were in the presence of the Son of Heaven. There he was, however, a mere boy in robes large enough to conceal an elephant (Page 60) and here we were, bowing and awaiting His Majesty’s voice. By the plan you (In the journal S E has included a drawing of the layout of the room and the positioning of those present. I have scanned this although the quality is poor Click here to see Eldridge’s drawing) will see the position we entered at "A". His Majesty spoke. It was an indistinct murmur of a few words, then the Prime Minister read what his Majesty was supposed to say, in Japanese. Then the interpreter, Ishibashi, read the English translation of His Majesty’s speech:

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 dezire you will cooperate and lead them to success. I feel sure you will perform meritorious duties

We bowed and the General, who was fearfully nervous, began his piece. We had all feared that he would in some way make a balk, but he went through it bravely and gracefully. When he had finished, the interpreter read the translation of it into Japanese. His Majesty nodded and we bowed, and backed out of his presence. The ceremony was concluded.
Returning to the house we had left twenty minutes or half an hour before, we were served with champagne and sweetmeats, each place being accompanied both by knife and fork and chop sticks. The chop sticks are a curiosity in their way, being so plain and intrinsically valueless that the lowest of His Majesty’s subjects would not habitually use them. this very worthlessness is, however, intended to convey the meaning that they are new and fresh, have never been used before. I stole mine and shall preserve them. At table, over our wine, which the higher class of Japanese drink with much relish, the conversation became general. (Page 61) We talked of the ceremony, of the United States, of the needs of Japan and of the work in Yezo. The Genl. suggested that Antisell and Warfield should go to Yezo at once, make some examinations of the ground, minerals, meteorology etc. and return here to report. He suggested further that manufacture required development no less than agriculture proper and that Nipon should be brought under the same system of development as Yezo. The General instanced the United States where nearly all our valuable plants are the result of experiments upon their introduction extending over a series of years, and specially recommended the introduction of improved livestock and better grasses than those native here, for their support. He further stated his belief that various fruits may be easily acclimatised here, especially mentioning the grape. To all these remarks and suggestions the Prime Minister responded that the Cabinet would consider the matters presented. The minister of foreign affairs apologised for not having as yet called and indicated his intention of doing so and of resuming a conversation held with me on a preceding occasion upon the relations of medicine to the state. Should I remain in Yedo this matter I shall endeavour to bring on the medical college here at once.
We soon after this bid the cabinet officers adieu and returned by the way we had come to our carriage. (Page 62) I enclose a sketch of the gate of the inner wall through which we passed, with its moat, bridge etc. I find my sketches, rough as they are, are becoming so numerous that I must beg you carefully to preserve them as I may use them some time. Well, we got home about 12 o’clock, and after tiffin went to the theatre - that is, Antisell, Wasson and myself, with servant and our Horé. It was a ride of seven or eight miles through the heart of the city. Arrived at the theatre we were escorted to a private box in the gallery, without seats of course, but furnished with blankets for us to sit upon. The building in its general arrangement corresponds closely with our edifices for the same purpose.

End of this section

Part 9 17th, 18th and 19th September 1871

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