Nagoya to Kosu, 15 August 1893

Nagoya had only been selected to spend the night there but we made a detour on the way to the railway to cast a furtive glance at the castle and get a very general impression of the surrounding of the city. It lies on the right bank of the small river Shonai close to Owari Bay, and presents itself as a booming provincial city and once had been the seat of the prince of Owari whose house had been founded by one of Ieyasu`s sons.

With 179.000 inhabitants Nagoya is the fourth largest city of the country and the capital of the department of Aiji as well as the province of Owari, which is part of the landscape of the Tokaido, the famous Eastern seaboard road between Tokyo and Kyoto. Situated in the plain the city lacks a beautiful surrounding scenery but makes a pleasant impression, not in the least due to the numerous well supplied shops that display the products of the busy industriousness of the local people.

The castle O Schiro had been built in 1610 as the residence of Ieyasu`s son and resembles in its structure the fortresses of Kumamoto and Osaka despite the artistic decoration of its interior rooms. After the huge change of rule in Japan the castle was turned over to the military only to be later given into the more careful hands of the department of the Imperial household. The space between the inner and outer wall, once the quarter for princely samurai contains now army barracks and exercising spaces. At the top of the five story high donjon gleam two golden dolphins that can be seen from far away in the city and which are 2,6 m tall and valued at 462.800 fl. in our currency that had been commissioned by the famous general Kato Kijomasa, the builder of the donjon, in 1610. One of the dolphins has a strange fate with a surprising connection to Vienna. It had been sent to the Vienna world exhibition and sank on the return journey on the steamer „Nil“ but was recovered by overcoming great difficulties and has now returned to its old place.

From Nagoya the railway line turns in a grand arc first in a South-eastern direction to Hamamatsu, then turns North-east by Shisuoka to Iwabuji, to continue East until Numasu. The line more or less follows the coast of the Pacific Ocean along the route of the Tokaido- Japanese cedars with tall trunks and cypress trees line this ancient traffic road that often comes very close to the railway line. During the whole journey, the railway line often crosses numerous elegant bridges that cover a number of smaller and larger rivers, standing water swamps, lagoons and bays. Just in front of Maisaka station we crossed a near endless system of bridges and embankments over the sea or more precisely the bay of Hamano to then cross the mighty bridge over the Tenriu-gawa which is counted among the exemplary structures of Japan.

During the first part of the journey the unavoidable rice paddies, interrupted by bamboo groves, formed the mainstay of the region that for certain areas resembles a garden but offers no scenic attractions. Where the railway gets close to the coast, the image turned into vivid colors due to the views upon the sea. Later the scenery changes as mountain ranges extend further out of the interior of the country as if the railway line wanted to rush more towards the sea. Soon we were in the area of the Japanese high mountains. The railway line touches the foot of the mighty Fuji and makes a detour around Hakone mountain.

Who does not know Fuji-san or Fuji-no-jama, in Europe often called Fusiyama, this Japanese landmark that one encounters as one of the most popular subjects of Japanese art on lacquer works. on porcelain, on paper, on wood and metal? As a holy mountain to whose top every year thousands of pilgrim walk, as an old volcano who has been peaceful since  1707 Fuji rises, said to be the highest mountain of Japan, to a height of 3760 m, isolated rising cone-shaped on a broad base. Unfortunately the peak of the original which we had seen in hundreds of illustrations was covered by a light fog layer. At least it formed an effective contrast to look up to a huge mountain mass on the left and see the shore of the Pacific Ocean on the right and the sea with numerous vehicles whose sails were filled due to the fresh wind.

Like a wall the Hakone mountains close off the entrance to the Kwanto, that is the East of the gate, to the plains of the capital city to which the Tokaido leads over the Hakone pass and a number of other passes. Here on the Hakone pass there was under the Tokugawa reign a large guard called the Kwan (gate) that secured the entry to the plains. Everywhere friendly valleys and deeply cut gorges opened up out of which flowed rushing rivers and streams. If these really respectable mountains, including the impressive Fuji, don`t make the impression of high mountains on us, the reason lies probably in its rounded, delicate forms while we are used to see steep, ragged, angular, jagged rocky formations.

Unfortunately our enjoyment about the images of the passing landscape was negatively impacted by the bad quality of the coal used for heat whose dust covered everything. In other aspects too the level of European comfort expected by a traveler was not yet provided.

In Kosu, a popular spa we left the train to enjoy the air in Miyanoshita in the Hakone mountains rich in thermal sources before we entered in the maelstrom of official festivities in Tokyo. A tea house that had a view on the moving sea provided us a temporary shelter and hospitality until we could set out by tramway to Miyanoshita which took us in a Western direction parallel to the Tokaido first to Odawara after crossing the Sakawa-gawa and a small stream. Odawara is the capital of the province Sagami and once connected to the famouse house of Hojo that had been destroyed here by the mighty Taiko-sama in 1590.

Opposite the ruins of Odawara castle the horses were switched while the local people and those from other places came out to watch us with curiosity as our appearance seemed to be somewhat comical to them. The driver who conducted my carriage performed his duty in a frock coat and a white tie, wore a high top hat and always applied the brakes in a mistaken sense of the importance of his duty so that the poor horses pulled the carriage forward only by snorting and panting. The lifeguard played the conductor sitting in the rear of the carriage in full dress uniform equipped with battle helmet and sword.

We crossed the Haya-gawa and arrived shortly afterwards at Yumoto where we exchanged the tramway for djinn rickshaws pulled by three runners each. Soon we started towards Miyanoshita following the mountain road that tracks closely the curvy valley of the roaring river. Yumoto, known for its curative sulfur thermal waters, is a health resort with numerous delicate small houses that are built on the ledge of a mountain range that offer a cool agreeable stay in the summer.

Our path led us in serpentines on the right river bank steeply upwards while deep down below us the Hayagawa flowed nearly hidden by the trees. The ledge on which the brave carriers were dragging us up had some tree cover while the one on the opposite side, the sunny side as we would call it at home, was without trees and only covered with tall grass as it had been ruthlessly deforested but not sensibly reforested. In a pleasant way the scene is made more lively by the presence of sources pouring out of the rocks, a small tea house for the tired walkers who is offered tea as a refreshment by the friendly looking musumes.

At Tonosawa, situated about a third of the journey and also possessing hot sources my eye caught sight of a white building on the opposite hill which proved to be a Greek-Orthodox chapel endowed by a Russian countess who had lived for many years in Japan. But the mission of that creed can offer little of success here.

We ascended more than 400 m when we arrived in Miyanoshita towards 7 o`clock in the evening, the spa whose sources and clean air as well as the agreeable strolls were often praised and which, as far as I could distinguish, consisted actually only out of hotels and houses connected to them besides a few shops. My expectations were set much too high from the descriptions so that I was quite disappointed. The area can not claim to possess captivating sights and nor characteristic mountain formations.

The site, at least as far as the grand hotel was concerned where we were staying was completely furnished in European style and targeted towards the English and Americans. Only the service by female servants reminds of Japan otherwise I could as well believe to be in a Swiss establishment. I had arrived with the desire to discover the original Japan both in scenery and the settlement — high mountains with Japanese alp huts — and find a cosy still life as in the unforgettable Mijajima while I now found a non-descript scenery with a fashionable hotel where a gong called the guests to breakfast, lunch and dinner and English voices were heard. In contrast the absence of bowing dignitaries and the fresh, rejuvenating mountain air were pleasant.

I continued to stroll for some time in the extensive valley gorge with the secondary intention to see some of the fauna, namely game, of this area and at least listen to some birds sing — but in vain. Only the common crow was sighted frequently even though that species had been sworn complete destruction for one of these birds had acted unkindly toward the strolling Mikado in one of the gardens of his palace and therefore all these animals bereft of reverence and etiquette were condemned to be outlaws by edict. Although there are interesting carnivores as well as deer and an antilope species native to Japan which I wanted to hunt just as I wanted to hunt the ever present pheasant. But we were not in the right season nor did the travel program allow it to go hunting so that the rifle had to rest in Japan.

The sulfur sources that are said to provide lasting cures for all kinds of illnesses are collected in a large health and bath resort of Japanese character.

Links

  • Location: Miyanoshita, Japan
  • ANNO – on 15.08.1893 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 ballet „Cavalleria Rusticana“.

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