17th, 18th and 19th September 1871

Sept. 17th (morning)
This is a rainy Sunday and I will devote it to my writing. Beginning where I left off, viz. at the theatre: the floor corresponding to our orchestra is divided by cross bars about 15 inches high into little pens about 4 feet square which seat, upon little mats, from four to six persons. Around the house ran a gallery containing a row of similar but larger boxes, one of which we occupied. Under this was another tier corresponding to our ?parquet. From the stage, which was large, ran along what in one of our theatres would have been a side aisle - a broad platform by which many of (Page 63) the actors made their entrances and exits, coming from a room at the side and from the front of the theatre. Theatres here begin at 7 in the morning and run continuously for nine hours and a half, viz. till half past 4pm. The usual way of going to the theatre is to make a day of it, take your family and smoke, drink and eat in the box you occupy. We saw many family parties enjoying their refreshment as coolly as if at home. When we entered the conclusion of a tragedy was just being played, having begun three days before. The acting and scenery were both good, female parts being played by men who mimicked the female Jap to perfection. In changing a scene, when not too cumbersome, the whole stage was slowly rotated on a pivot, and the new scene came into view as the other, actors and all, disappeared. A winter scene with falling snow etc. was particularly well given. The audience occasionally encouraged the actors by approving remarks and enjoyed all fun heartily. There must have been 1500 people present, and the theatre would hold 1800. After the tragedy we had a ballet, with the slow, posturing dancing of the people, and much pantomime fun. Our servant had brought wine, sweetmeats and cigars, and we enjoyed these at our leisure. (Page 64) We had dismissed our carriage on entering the theatre and returned home in jinrikshas. On the way I stopped at a Japanese drug store and bought, for 300 a model of the anatomy of a woman, the whole figure being about four feet high, and in its anatomy being decidedly remarkable. This I intend to send to the army medical museum to which it will be quite an accession. We reached home and dinner safely at about 7pm having had a great treat, and found that our boxes of sweetmeats had been sent in from the Tenno’s palace, as well as a bamboo for canes for which I had expressed a wish, thinking it would be a nice memento.

Sept. 17th (evening)
I have but little to enter this evening for I have written and studied all day. Antisell and Warfield have been making preparations to go to Yezo next week. Dr Hayes, brother in law of Mr DeLong, the American minister who was one of our fellow passengers in the America, called and tiffined today. He had scarcely left when Mr Shepherd and the Consul called and stayed to dinner. He reports having had an interview with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in which he had put some strong appeals for the employ of Wasson by the Japanese War Dept.

(Page 65) Sept. 18th (evening)
I have little to enter tonight. I spent the entire day with Wasson, sticking my nose into all the byways of Yedo. I bought a dollar’s worth of curios, hoping to be able to send a few home by the next steamer. Getting tired of footing it we concluded to take jinrikshas and stopped at a sort of jinriksha livery stable to engage our hacks. I got mine and sat down on it before my coolie was in the shafts. Consequence was that I overbalanced backwards and exposed my heels, flying through the air before at least a hundred Japs. They were so polite that they didn’t laugh, although it was the ordinary street crowd, until they saw me come right side up and laugh - when they broke into a jolly ha-ha. Coming home we saw the rope tying trick of the Davenport boys, done by a party of street jugglers, better than the Davenports themselves ever did it. The person tied was a little boy not over five years old. When he was tied they threw a cloth over him in the open street, and in 30 seconds he was loose.
Dr Hayes here again today trying for some purpose to find out all about our visit to the Tenno. (Page 66) The General and Prof. Antisell today visited a native establishment for the manufacture of silks and cottons. They report the apparatus as most primitive. They also visited a large manufactory of lackerware (sic) but were not allowed to see the whole process.

Sept. 19th (evening)
Today our party visited the suburb of Oji, about ten miles from our house. Here are some mills for cotton spinning and weaving, the machinery of which was brought from England. We found nothing in operation though the machinery was good and in good order. Near by we found a small tannery, however, managed by a German who had been in the United States. he was making very fair leather. In connection with the tannery was shoe shop employing about 30 hands who were making shoes for troops, and a very fair article too. Wasson and myself made the trip to Oji on horseback, and as we are neither of us in very good training at present we prefer cushioned chairs. It is the imperative custom here for every horseman to be accompanied by his running footman or a groom who precedes the horse to clear the way. In fact this custom is so universal that few horses will go willingly unless he sees his groom in (Page 67) advance. The endurance of these grooms or "bettos" as they are called, is wonderful. We rode today the whole twenty miles, either at a swinging trot or gallop, and our bettos not only kept up without apparent exertion but actually seemed to enjoy it, and cut capers for the last five miles. My man cut rather a comical figure. His whole costume consisting, beside his breech clout, of a long black alpaca frock coat.
As the America leaves for San Francisco day after tomorrow I must prepare my tribune letter. I hardly know how this is to be done, for to please, or at least not to offend, to please the editor and not to displease the Govt. here is a hard task. I doubt much if under these circumstances, anything I can say will be worth insertion.

End of this section

Part 10 20th to 27th September 1871

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