Mijajima to Kyoto, 7 August 1893

At dawn I rushed quickly to the Shinto temple to see it also in daylight and visit again the gallery of votive images. Then we embarked again on „Yaeyama“ and left Mijajima to the sound of the gun and board salutes of the two warships remaining behind. The island of Mijajima will have a safe place in my memories among the highlights of the journey up to now.

The weather clearly favored us. The day was gorgeous and we could fully dedicate ourselves to enjoying the scenic impressions presented by the inland sea with its world of islands. Innumerable today too, fishing boats covered the sea but they were more prudent than the vehicles we had met yesterday. They moved out of the way of „Yaeyama“ already at great distance as soon as they heard the shrill sound of its steam whistle.

The coast of the province of Aki and the islands between which we had been squeezing us through displayed during the first two hours of our journey the same imprint as the mainland and the islands we had passed the day before. Green mountains and rocky formations of original nature formed here too the foundation of the scenery. In time, however, the heights and slopes change in character as they become more and more bare and the vegetation retreats and is replaced by yellow stone whose bright shine gives the landscape a peculiar coloring. It is as if the entrails of the mountains and hills became visible — probably a sad consequence of the excessive deforestation whose disadvantages had been recognized too late as one could see from the attempts made at reforestation of the soil that had become unproductive instead of profitable. From deck we could perceive the regular lines of young plants that had not yet succeeded but only are a first step towards reverting the damage. In many places there are lime rock quarries that provide valued building material.

„Yaeyama“ had to cross many narrow passages until we landed in front of Mihara in the province Bingo where we disembarked and, having said good-bye to the ships‘ staffs — at Mihara lay two large Japanese warships —,  rushed to the train station.

Mihara forms the current terminal station of the Sanyo railway line which would in the near future be extended along the Northern coast of the inland sea to Shimonoseki and  connected by a steam traject to the Moji-Kumamoto line. The landscape passed by the railway has at first the same characteristics we had seen already from the ship looking at the coast. The rather less pleasant views of the deforestations were compensated by the spectacle offered by the sea and its picturesque bays.

Full rows of salt works along the sea cost can be seen. The biggest part of the plain is devoted to rice cultivation. Here too the reforestation of the bare ledges has been started and they already have a slim green layer but unfortunately the plants suffer from the dryness — a cry of agony is heard all over the country about the drought which caused even larger river beds to dry up. In time the landscape appears in friendlier forms, the hills are covered with woods, Japanese cedars, spruces and bamboo were waving to us and finally we entered a landscape which we had grown fond of in its real Japanese qualities.

In the rich trade and port city of Onomichi as well as the smaller villages alongside the railway line, the tracks lead straight through the middle of the city if not ot say through the houses. The houses stand so close to the railway that one could speak with the inhabitants without problem out of the compartment windows. The inhabitants, however, do not let themselves be disturbed by the thundering train in their daily activities. Naturally I stood at the window and could observe thus many funny and even comical family scene. Close to Onomichi lies the temple of Senkō-ji, famous in all of Japan for its panoramic view over a great distance. It is a pity that we could not enjoy these sights!

In front of the station of Fukuyama, the capital of the province Bingo, we saw on a hill a castle built in pagoda style of the former daimyo, the current count of Abe, which looks like it was in an exceptionally well preserved condition. A similar castle is situated in Okayama and has been restored to the former daimyo, the current viscount of lkeda. According to the original program we would have stayed overnight in Okayama, but I preferred to continue without break on to Kyoto to stay longer there. Still the whole city was decorated with festive flags and a crowd of thousands thronged around the station where the dignitaries and delegations in large numbers had assembled. The mayor of Okayama greeted me with a longer speech and presented me with a collection of beautiful photographs that showed the city, individual spots in the surrounding areas, all kinds of scenes of daily activities and types.

At all the other stations we stopped, by the way, the local administration, the school youth and the fire brigade as well as the officer corps where a garrison existed made an appearance to greet me so that I could have imagined myself to be a mighty ruler who is travelling in his own country in view of all this honorable receptions. Driven by the desire to ease the burden of courtesy and hospitality as much as possible, I had made a request, as stated, to make the journey up to Yokohama as an incognito or at least reduce the festive receptions to a level of what is minimally necessary. But it was evidently regarded as very important to escort me with the biggest ceremonial pomp across the country.

When my tiredness finally began to claim its rights, I went to bed and soon slept deeply so that I missed the splendid reception in Kobe enriched by a firework at 11 o’clock to which also the staff of the ships anchoring here had been invited.

Links

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 07.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Margarethe (Faust)“.

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