Schlagwort-Archiv: August

Shimonoseki to Miyajima, 6 August 1893

Prior to embarking on „Yaeyama“ I had the opportunity to meet the Japanese prime minister, the often mentioned Count Ito Hirobumi, and express my most vivid sympathies as he had arrived during the night to visit his son who was ailing due to a heavy fall. The son of the count had also been assigned to my entourage but had had the misfortune during the trip to meet us to fall down from the gangway and sustain so heavy internal injuries that our doctor who had examined the patient declared that there was only a minor chance of recovery.

To the thundering salute of all warships we took leave from Shimonoseki, while our cruiser was slowly turning until it steered Eastwards into the much praised inland sea. The Japanese inland sea, Seto-no-uji-umi, that is the sea between the straits is enclosed in the South by the islands of Kyushu ans Shikoku, in the North by the main island of Hondo and is connected to the ocean by the strait of Van der Capellen, Bungo and Linschoten. High and low tide alternate in the inland sea just like in the ocean, but the depth of the inland sea is low and often barely 20 fathoms. Extending from Shimonoseki in the West to Osaka in the East, the inland sea is namely in the middle parts covered with volcanic islands whose number is given according to Japanese sources as being in the multiple thousands.

Just after we had exited through the narrow passage of Shimonoseki, the coasts of the islands of Kyushu and Hondo left us as they retreat here sharply an surround this part of the inland sea named after the province Suwo in a wide arc.

This day displayed an inclination to show everything in the best light. Without clouds the sky was smiling upon us in a friendly blue and a fresh wind brought agreeable cool air. The slightly moving sea was enlivened by countless vehicles built in the most adventurous forms and equipped with the strangest sails out to go fishing, as fish play an important role in the diet of the Japanese people as fish composes their main meat component. After the current regulations steamships do not have to evade the surrounding boats. It is upon the latter to make way for the steamships. But this is accorded with a certain carelessness, so that we had come all too close to some junks despite the frequent use of the steam whistle until we finally rammed one which however slid alongside our board wall with crunching sounds and survived with damages to its steering and masts — a collision that made no impression on our commander who continued his journey with a smile as if nothing had happened.

After about three hours we changed course and steered towards North-east to enter into a real labyrinth of islands on this course. Driving through this jumble of islands was truly enchanting and I can confirm with my own experience that the enthusiastic reports given in travel descriptions about the natural beauties of the island sea are not exaggerated.  The larger islands with their mighty mountains that are partly bereft of woods but still form a very effective background make a very imposing impression. Many of the smaller islands that are in very fantastic forms consist of only a single gigantic rock emerging out of the sea, others are covered with hills and pointy cones. Nearly all larger islands are inhabited. At the coasts village is followed by village, one fishing village after another. Everywhere it is apparent that the inhabitants rely either on agriculture or fishing for their living. On the slopes of the hills extend well cultivated fields and on the lightly curled surface of the sea danced complete fleets of boats. Even somebody with a very audacious imagination might have trouble inventing such a scenery that surpasses in diversity, movement and impressive greatness as well as charming intimacy  what is revealed in front of our eyes here.

Even though our full attention was already taken care of, the commander of „Yaeyama“ arranged exercises that happened quite precisely and quickly with the 12 cm Armstrong guns despite the long nearly endless Japanese orders. From time to time the ship band played some music pieces, among them the inescapable overture of „Tell„, a pot-pourri from „Mignon“ and various dances from home. For all the appreciation that I am read to accord the Japanese after all that I have heard and seen, I can not keep quiet about the fact that I have enjoyed much better performances than what was produced for our ears here. Some of the presented pieces could hardly be recognized in the manner played here and the programs too had no claim to reliability as they for instance declared the opera „Carmen“ to be a creation of our waltz king Strauß.

When we changed course again to steer northwards the mountainous coast of the province Suwo lay only a few miles away on port. Following this coast and later that of the province Aki we steamed until we came into sight of the island of Miya — our destination for today. After we still crossed a very narrow passage putting some fishing boats in danger but exited without accident, we entered into the bay of Miyajima where two warships, the cruiser „Chiyoda“ and the corvette „Tenriu“, greeted the arrival of „Yaeyama“ with thunder. To my not especially pleasing surprise we could already see from afar both on land and in boat the white uniforms of the overeager policemen.

The temple island Miyajima is remarkable in comparison to the other islands of this archipelago that its up to 457 m rising heights covered with splendid closed woods. The ground of the island is holy. That is why the humans are not allowed to lay hand on the trees and also the deer enjoy an undisturbed existence, so fully tame dear run around in the midst of pedestrians and eat out of the hands of a passer-by. Despite the religious dedication that distinguishes the island it is a much visited excursion place during the summer as the charming valleys that open up towards the sea are criss-crossed by numerous pleasant trails. A never too hot temperature as well as refreshing sea and freshwater baths are other attractive reasons for a visit. The island is inhabited by about 3003 people — priests, innkeepers, fishermen and wood cutters — whose houses are situated in charming seclusion along the bay at the foot of the green hills from which splendid conifers were greeting us. A very interesting contrast to this was formed by the province Aki on the opposite shore, as the sharply falling slopes of the mountains were bare and the light colored almost gleaming white stone and debris made it seem as if the mountains were covered by snow.

Also on Miyajima I had to undergo an entrée glorieuse, an introduction I would have gladly been spared but which was inescapable as the Japanese were very keen on creating the greatest ceremonies and the fullest pomp at any opportunity. At the landing bridge the high dignitaries and notables stood in great numbers. They were presented to me and bowed deeply when I passed them Then followed a cordon of the guardians of the law, behind them there was a crowd of the people curious to see the foreign prince who, followed by his own and the Japanese entourage, walked between the lifeguard in a green uniform and the doorman with the sword. I permitted myself a small deviation from the program.  When I noticed that the distance to our residence would be quite far away and covering it at the speed of a festive procession in the high temperature as well as the fact that the path was not covered with roses but a layer of fine sand not especially agreeable I started to walk at a double quick that soon brought me to my destination but the entourage was left breathless causing general hilarity.

While the residences on Japanese soil had already found our admiration, this was by far surpassed by the charming details of this residence prepared for us here as well as its scenic surrounding, the originality of the site. The path had led us through a narrow wooded gorge. Trees many hundred years old provided agreeable shade. In the base of the gorge a small crystal clear stream was flowing, enlivened by jolly goldfish and other species of fish swimming around.  Between the trees rose rocks on which there were very charming small houses distributed apparently randomly and only owe their existence to the fancy of good taste. Each of us was assigned to his own house.

At a few spots the ripply stream has been dammed to create a miniature pond in whose midst open kiosks with verandas stand on poles. In these mats as well as plushy pillows invite to rest and dream to the murmurs of the stream. All these enchanting buildings are connected with delicate paths, stairs, runways or bridges. Here and there a bubbling source splashes between the rocks, whizzes and sprays a water fountain whose jets fall back into the caves of the hollowed out stones that are surrounded by all kinds of water and climbing plants. Everywhere there are small stone temples covered in moss — similar to the chapels and votive pillars that stand on our country roads — that are intended to hold a light in the evening in order to provide illumination like niches cut into the rock. The wonders surrounding us here have been created by true artists whose brisk fantasies have been combined with a fine sensory for the beauty of nature and emotional poetry. Our astonishment about this idyllic retreat in the woods was loudly proclaimed and we rushed around everywhere closely discovering the magic place in all its details.

The individual houses were of a colorful diversity in their site and execution so that we could not cease to be amazed about the creativity of the Japanese builders. Still each of these small master works shared a common quality of cuteness. Here too the building material was only wood, namely bamboo, straw mats and paper but the artisans had shown their rare skills in such an excellent way that the most simple means created wholesome effects for the eye. Even the furniture of the living rooms was picturesque, consistent with the laws of beauty. While the decorative art of the related tribe of the Chinese is characterised by a preference for the colorful and flashy and sometimes even blatant, the Japanese, despite all variety of colors, are distinguished by their artistic moderation, the perfect harmony and the cosy intimacy as well as a tender understanding to create life as comfortable as possible. The principles of the Japanese character, the vivid hilarity, the attractive sensuality and notable sense for beauty are displayed in all areas of life of the people and make the people and the country equally sympathetic to any stranger who sets foot on Japanese soil.

After I had said good-bye to the dignitaries and notables who had escorted me and taken possession of our small house, I took a stroll in the neighborhood of my residence.

Miyajima is thanks to its famous temple a place of pilgrimage, a sort of Mariazell of Southern Japan; like in the proximity of our church of mercy there are in the area of the temple countless shops and stalls that sell souvenirs about the holy island to the pilgrims. These objects are mostly expert carvings or pictures of the settlement on the island, the temple, the deer etc. available for an almost ridiculous low price, a circumstance which might be explained that the island is still outside of the great tourist routes and the inhabitants are not yet spoiled by visiting Englishmen and Americans. In these shops I bought whole wagon loads of pretty objects especially small tables, vases and all kinds of copies of crippled wood, toys and hundreds of other things.

The government had also, by the way, made great efforts to make the enlargement of my collection as easy as possible. In one building whose rooms otherwise are used for pedagogical purposes they had arranged a formal display of the products of Japanese art industry which overall contained about the same objects sold in the shops but cost three times the price thanks to the official intervention. I limited my purchases there to an ancient Japanese suit of armor besides the matching grotesque mask with its martial moustache.

Climbing a steep stairs I arrived in a large temple-like hall built out of wood which is situated on a hill and had been constructed by Taiko-sama, the marshal and regent of the empire who had started out as a groom, in the spot where he had given orders in 1591 before the departure of the Japanese army under the generals Konishi Jukinaga and Kato Kiyomasa to the conquest of Korea. This hall in which the Taiko-sama is said to have held great festive banquets is decorated with large votive pictures hanging on the walls. The wood carvings on a pagoda constructed not far from the hall shows the honorable signs of old age.  A few steps above these buildings and near of a monument dedicated to a fallen soldier, on the dominant point of the island, I enjoyed the attractive panoramic view of the lovely Miyajima.

Dinner we ate to the sounds of two music bands in one of the pond kiosks. In that unusual dinning room there was very agreeable temperature so that it would be desirable that also in our country similarly built and situated rooms could be used for the same purpose during the summer months  if the mosquitoes permit this as they were noticeably disturbing the comfortable dinner at Miyajima. The dinner was attended, among other personalities, by the division commander of Hiroshima with a very vivid and jovial temperament as well as an admiral who had come from the port city of Kure — two gentlemen with whom I had a very inspiring conversation. The messages of the admiral strengthened my conclusion that the Japanese were carefully planning to expand their navy, a circumstance that not the least is shown by the excellent performance of the Imperial navy cadet school that had been set up on the island of Eta close to Kure.

The famous temple of the island, a Shinto shrine, we visited during the evening. Shintoism and Buddhism are both heathen religious systems practised by the Japanese population. Buddhism, currently split into seven main sects and devoted to the most crass idol veneration, is the actual religion of the people while the upper classes of society now are mostly religiously indifferent or lapsed into atheism. Beside the two religions noted the doctrine of Confucius has also taken hold. It has not penetrated very deeply but it has influenced many of the better educated classes and greatly namely the samurai of earlier times.

The Shintoism intends felicity during the mundane life and presumes that the spirits of the deceased assist in the achievement of this goal. That is way the believer clamp their hands and ring to call them. Characteristic for Shintoism or the Kami doctrine are the adoration of famous men as gods besides a multitude of gods apparently in the millions who are led by the sun queen Amaterasu. An apparent descendant of the latter, the Jimmu Tenno (660 to 585 BC), is the founder of the Japanese Empire and the ancestor of the Imperial House so that the respective Emperor of Japan is venerated as a son of heaven and thus as a god. To Shintoism actual dogmatic and ethical principles are alien but a well established ritual and a developed liturgy exist. Like Buddhism, Shintoism could not keep its original purity but has been influenced by the former in many ways.

It is interesting to note that at the beginning of the new era in 1868, the government tried to displace Buddhism in favor of Shintoism. This effort is explained by the understandable interest that the Emperor, or to use the more common title, the Mikado, has in this religion that connects him with the founder of the Empire as well as Heaven and thus must have been seen as suitable to strengthen the Imperial power restored by the great reform movement. In the year 1876, by the way, freedom of religion was declared and from this principle Christendom has profited too. At least Roman-Catholic bishops have been installed in Tokyo, Nagasaki, Kyoto and in Sandani a few years ago.

The temple on the island apparently built already in the 6th or 7th century and dedicated to received its form in the 12th century by Kiyomori which made it famous as a building in Western Japan. As a Shinto shrine the temple, that the Kannuschi, that is the Shinto priests, had illuminated in our honor even if only sparsely, is characterised by tall gallows-like portals called Torii that stand on poles and are attached to the sides.  The temple contains a multitude of rooms for the sanctuaries and connecting paths.

We were not allowed to enter into the actual temple rooms but we could at least take a look without seeing much that was remarkable beyond candle holders and images. In the center of the main temple one could see some kind of pedestal which was intended for festive processions on high holy days and flanked by two bronze dragons, true  metal master works. Strangely formed tall bronze vases I had noticed already at the temple entrance.

The priests clad in white silk clothes and equipped with strange headdresses reminding of a bishop’s escorted us and showed us in two chambers all the objects instruments used for their divine services, and among many other things also splendid cloth that would make many of our ladies envious, furthermore grotesque masks and various swords some of which of a bulky length of 4,5 m and probably are only demonstration objects for certain ceremonies.

The temple on Miyajima shows in its sumptuous decoration already the consequence of an important Buddhist influence, as a pure Shinto temple is distinguished by its simplicity and especially by its absence of metal decorations or lacquer ornaments. Also its symbols are restricted to a round metal mirror as an image of god’s splendor, the Gohei, a paper affixed to a small wooden stick of which it is assumed that the spirit of the god will sit down and a gemstone or crystal ball as a sign of purity and power of god.

The large number of hanging votive pictures, some of which have considerable artistic merit and are very old, in a gallery of the temple is remarkable. Some of those have been created by the hands of famous masters. We met here a great variety of illustrations with all kinds of good and bad gods and spirits,  some of which with grotesque faces, monkeys, deer as well as other animals and in a colorful mix scenes from life, partly painted, partly carved, partly in-laid.

Even though it had already been considerably late at night, we still were sitting around, clad in Kimonos, at one of the pond kiosks, smoking, chatting and sipping champaign enjoying the surrounding nature whose charms caused us to loudly lament the shortness of the stay in Miyajima allocated by the program.

Finally we took a cooling bath in the waves of the stream by jumping straight from the veranda of the kiosk into the water and happily splashed around in it under the shine of red lampions.

Links

  • Location: Miyajima, Japan
  • ANNO – on 06.08.1893 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 „Cavalleria rusticana“.

Kumamoto, 5 August 1893

Soon after the break of dawn I fell into the hands of a barber who did complete his task in a very delicate manner with a great number of tiny knives but who put my patience to a hard test.

In the phaeton guided by Sannomiya we drove, in suffocating heat despite the early morning hour, to Kumamoto castle where I was received by prince Yoshihisa.

The city of Kumamoto, capital of the department of the same name comprising the provinces of Higo and Chikugo and after the census of 1891 counting more than 54.000 inhabitants, is situated at the river Shiragawa, about 6 km upstream from the mouth of that river, and was destroyed by a fire in the year 1877 as well as severely damaged by a later earthquake. Newly rebuilt in part, the city’s structures offer a very regulated impression and are characterised by wide clean roads with planted trees. The houses are very small and equipped with characteristic roofs. They allow everybody an unrestricted view into the interior of the house as well as the family life. Apart from the tea houses and palaces of rich owners, The shops lining the streets are filled with vast quantities of original objects.

The castle was built by Kato Kiyomasa, one of the senior general of Japan’s war against Korea (1592) but was like the park destroyed so that today the wide area is occupied by a large number of military buildings, barracks, stables, magazines, ammunition depots etc. The extremely high walls formed out of huge rocks and the deep moats that can be detected despite their having been filled-in are remarkable. Even in the interior the fortress is criss-crossed by walls that are punctuated by gates. Today the walls are not in a condition to act as a defense. The former stronghold could not withstand a siege supported by modern guns all the more so as the higher surrounding hills are not protected by forts or batteries. Currently therefore the castle has no role as a fortress even though it still fulfilled its purpose in the year 1877.

During the Satsuma uprising a garrison commanded by General Tani, and reinforced by part of the garrison of Kokura,  that consisted of an infantry regiment, four batteries of field artillery, one company of engineers and two companies from Fukuoka, in total about 3000 men,  resisted for 52 days against the rebels who besieged the castle with about 16.000 men. At that time the city quarter close to the fortress was fully burned down by the garrison in order to have a sufficiently open field of fire.

The path that leads up to the command post at the highest point on the hill passes through all the former defensive works and is notable by its steepness so that finally the horses pulling the phaeton completely refused to go on. They did no longer pull which caused the wagon to fall back and caused Sannomiya much embarrassment. He beat the horses, tore forcefully at the sharp poles and expressed his displeasure with swearwords that he took alternating from German and Japanese. This did however not improve the matter and the journey could only be continued after some runners rushed in and rescued us by pushing the wagon by its wheels upward.

Prince Yoshihisa received us most obligingly in the not really large but comfortable apartments and showed me a picture of the former fortress which he presented to me as well as three charming porcelain figures of high artistic value. From a bastion in front of the house where some old guns were waiting to be decommissioned, we enjoyed a panoramic view open to all  sides on the castle, the long-winded city at its foot and its surrounding area.

Using maps and lists of dates the prince gave me a very interesting account of the rebellion of 1877, in which, as stated, Kumamoto had played an important role. This Satsuma rebellion that was only put down after seven months proved to be a severe test which the modernised Japan had to pass. The soul behind the dangerous movement  was General Saigo Kichinosuke who deserved much credit for the restoration of power of the mikado  but had retired to his home since 1873. Sulking and unhappy, Saigo founded private schools for samurai with like-minded friends in Satsuma. They were educated in Chinese literature and instructed in military exercises. In time the number of these samurai grew to 30.000, who formed an army blindly devoted to Saigo.

In January 1877 the long prepared movement broke out and Saigo marched at the head of 14.000 rebels whose numbers considerably increased by new arrivals on Kumamoto. It was besieged by a part of the rebels while about 9000 men went Northwards towards the Imperial troops approaching from Kokura led by Arisugawa-no-miya. The rebels were soon beaten at Tawarasaka and the siege of Kumamoto had to be lifted. After a number of smaller battles the strongholds of the rebels, the cities of Miyakonocho and Nobeoka, fell into the hands of the Imperial troops which however did not prevent Saigo to capture Kagoshima at the head of 500 faithful and take the ample stocks assembled there. Already on 24 September Saigo and his small band were surrounded on Shira mountain near Kagoshima by 15.000 men of Imperial troops. The brave rebels soon were killed or captured. Saigo died by the hand of one of his companions named Beppu who cut off his head and so provided his leader with a last friendly deed. Himself he killed by committing Harakiri, that is the ritual slitting open of the belly.

On the bastion tents had been set up in which cooling drinks and frozen treats were served and the native adjutants fanned cool air towards us — a common local and very welcome use of these officials given the tropical heat. The view of the city that presented itself, the smiling landscape, the surrounding mountain ranges as well as the fortress were incredibly picturesque and all the more attractive the longer the viewer absorbs the impression of the scenic image. About 100 m distant from the bastion rise the last remains of the earlier art of fortification, a tall pagoda-like tower made out of wood that has probably been left standing as a historic landmark and now is used as an observation platform. Climbing the three floors on the steep wooden staircase of the tower we looked down from its vertiginous height. As images show, all walls and protruding edges carried such towers in the good old times when powder was unknown and shooting weapons were restricted to bow and arrow. The important number of such towers must have given a very strange appearance to a fortress.

From a lofty height we could survey the imposing extent of the castle and the number of buildings that had been constructed. Apart from the remains of the former fortifications, there lay the barracks of the 13th and 23rd infantry regiments built in the modern pattern, that is according to the pavilion system and equipped with spacious courtyards where troop formations performed platoon and company exercises in their summer uniforms. At some distance are the cavalry and artillery barracks whereas especially the former one with its trooper pavilion, the long troop stables, the smithies and the quarantine stations resembled a home cavalry barrack and really looked almost nostalgic to a former commander of a cavalry regiment.

Even though a visit of the cavalry barracks was not on the program, I asked the prince to visit this military institution given my understandable interest for my own branch of service. I also asked to see a mounted formation perform exercises. I had no reason to regret the fulfilment of these wishes. What I was presented astonished me in fact justly.

As the formation of cavalry in the European manner has only happened recently, the achieved results must be called rather excellent. Even though there are still some defects that can not be denied, still my expectations were surpassed by far. According to the organization of the Japanese cavalry it was set to consist of 6 battalions of the line at 3 squadrons each and 1 guard battalion of 2 squadrons. Each battalion of the line had a total strength of 497 men and 459 horses.

The stables that offered space for two troops each are built out of wood and very airy. In the stall there is no permanent straw. The appearance of the horses, even though some are well nourished and have glossy hair, in general leaves much to be desired. Some of the animals are much too meager and a great number had saddle sores. Remarkably many were stallions. The feed provided three times per day consists of barley and rather bad reedy hay. The army command has replaced the saddle in use with a new one built according to a German model but it did not look practical to me which also applied to the newly introduced string belts. The storage packs are at the rear, the coat and two small bags that contain each two magazines with three bullets each. are carried in front tied to the horn. Earlier the bit was very similar to ours, which was true for all horse gear, but was replaced recently by an English bit with very long lower parts which in my opinion offers no advantage. Completely unusable are the much too thin grass green saddle blankets, folded eight times, that are probably the reason of the numerous and often quite considerable saddle sores.

The troop rooms are covered with wood and are airy and cleanly kept. I noticed the large number of uniforms and shoes with which the soldiers are equipped. Each man has besides the parade and exercise uniform, a summer uniform and three to four striped jackets, a very comfortable piece of clothing. On boards that are fixed above the sleeping places there are everywhere nice tea bowls. The troopers who look well and strong are fed three meals per day which consists mostly out of rice, the national dish, and sufficient complements of fish or meat.

As far as the arms of the cavalryman are concerned I noticed that the saber’s blade was slim and thin while the hilt offered little flexibility so that the weapon nearly gave the impression of being made for children. The carbine is not held by belt as it our practice and bounces around on the back of the trooper at any movement. The revolver of the NCOs are easy to handle and much more practical weapons than those we use.

While we were inspecting the rooms of the barracks, a mounted troop of 14 pairs had assembled in the large courtyard upon the order of the commander who made a fine military impression. This troop performed all evolutions of troop exercises in every gait. It completely resembled the movements of the cavalry troops of our army because the German had taken the German regulations as their prototype which in turn was formed after our own regulations, with the exception that at the reception the troops salute too with the saber held high holding the hilt in front of the face.

All movements, turns, pulls, deployments and departures in pairs or fours were performed quietly. At the end of the exercise the troopers rode individually in circles which allowed us to precisely judge the quality of each horse and rider. The Japanese government had bought a couple of years ago some Hungarian studs and sent them to different areas of the country. The products of these ancestors form the cavalry horse of the Japanese army today which at the first glance reveals its Hungarian blood. The choice of the studs, however, does not have been a happy one as the descendants had a faulty, too short neck with a very pronounced lower jaw and sometimes bad backs while the legs mostly looked very good.  I would classify the presented animals as equal to our transportation horses of a minor quality. The horses of the Japanese cavalry are bought at the surprisingly low price of just below 200 fl. in our currency per piece and directly trained by the troop if they are not supplied by remounts from the government foal breeding farms.

The riding of the troopers still left much to be desired according to our standards. Not the leas due to the requirement for the rider to hold his fist very high because the coat and the bags with the ammunition had been packed in front of him. This causes a rather uneasy lead. The people in general treated their rarely ridden horses harshly despite the very sharp horse gear with a stiff lower jaw. In contrast, the troopers have a smooth good seat and I believe that a troop such as the one we inspected with its natural ability and the good will of the people could be taught in a short time by an instructor educated in European methods to achieve full parity with a good European cavalry regiment.

In any case I have experienced continental cavalry formations exercise that performed far worse than the presented Japanese troop to whose honor I have to insist that the inspection was in no way planned but improvised so that they could not train the exercises beforehand as this is said to be the case elsewhere. With words of true praise and heartfelt thanks I left the barracks, congratulating the brave colonel about the performance of his troop, not without regretting that the short time frame did not permit to inspect the infantry and artillery.

Prince Yoshihisa led us to a park not fully 2 km distant from the city called Suisenji which was once the garden of the country retreat of the Hosokawa family. The Japanese are justly quite proud about this park that serves as a place for excursions. It is really a sightseeing spot of a very strange kind as it is typical for the Japanese art of gardening. It gives the impression as if one had taken small trees, bushes, flowers, hills, rocks, ponds and pools out of a toy box and tastefully arranged them in groups and colorful stops in order to create a garden installation in the most delicate dimension.

While there had been large crowds on both sides of the road, there was an army of dignitaries at the entrance of the park. The most prominent were introduced to me while the rest formed a well organized cordon through which we walked to arrive at a hut decorated with flags and flowers where refreshments and tea was served. The latter was offered in the manner the Japanese like to drink it that is as a bitter tasting green broth that resembled a garden sorrel sauce which I did not like at all.

Japan almost only produces green tea and for the cultivation of the tea bush are allocated only areas in the plains or on gently sloping grounds. The best qualities of the Japanese tea, powder or pearl tea is almost completely consumed by the country itself while in general only tea from leaves of minor quality are exported. While we were trying to paralyze the oppressive heat by the consummation of refreshing drinks, a brilliant daylight firework was ignited.

The smartly profit-oriented merchants of Kumamoto had set up an exhibition of all kinds of Japanese artistic and industrial products not far from the park in an open theater in order to tempt us. As there were splendid things, exquisite objects made out of bronze, lacquer paintings, artistically formed and worked objects made out of bamboo, porcelain, silk and namely armor as well as weapons, among them especially artistically decorated swords are worth a mention.  The prices demanded were enormous. Still out of honor I had to make some acquisitions which seemed to cause quite some entertainment for my princely cousin.

A breakfast served in our small house attended by some higher officers of the garrison completed our stay in Kumamoto. The friendly prince Yoshihisa accompanied us to the station through a cordon of troops where we left under the thunder of the gun in a special court train on the line of the Kyushu railway that connects the island of Kyushu from Kumamoto in a Northern direction to the terminal station of Moji.

This railway line stops at some larger places such as Kurume, earlier the residence of the daimyo of Arima and now the capital of the province of Chikugo. Then the win city of Hakata-Fukuoka divided by the river Naka. The former is the harbor of the latter and formerly contained the business quarter while Fukuoka served as a garrison quarter with houses for the many thousands of samurai and now is the capital of the province of Chikusen. Finally just shortly before the terminal stop is Kokura, the capital of the province Busen. The railway soon turns to the West and then continues for some time alongside the coast and then to the North only to turn from Hakata in a large curve to the East and North-east to Moji.

Not only in the stations of the larger villages but also on all the smaller stations and even where the train did not stop great crowds had turned out led by governors, commanders and other dignitaries of all categories to greet me. I did not attend, however, the planned receptions and speeches of the stops in order to enjoy the peace by pretending to sleep so that the visiting dignitaries were reduced to only drop of their cartes de visite in the wagon.

Alongside all the tracks there were measures taken by the police to guarantee our protection. Even in places where the track passed a road stood a saluting guard fully aware about his dignity and importance. I may, I believe, say with justice that Japan has never before seen such a police deployment in such a limited space and I have never in my life felt to be under so much supervision as here.

The special train was not exactly flying by on the narrow gauge track so that it was a real pleasure to stand on the platform of the wagon and observe the cheerful scenery. The character of the country is harmonically suited to their happy polite inhabitants even though it could also be said that the inhabitants had conformed themselves to the character of the landscape. Everywhere there were friendly valleys opening up and numerous small villages peeped out of the lush green. Mountains and hills are in many places heavily stocked with coniferes below which dense bamboo bushes are growing. Unfortunately there are also important areas which had been completely deforested which is no wonder given the intense demand for wood in this country. In these places grows a  weed-like bamboo. Now and then one could see quite suddenly rising hills of a semI-spherical shape emerge out of the plains on which grew rich vegetation among which aventurously twisted pines were common that we had already seen in many Japanese gardens in natura and on lacquered boxes, vases etc. in more or less successful reproductions.

At Kokura where the railway comes very close to the sea, we greeted the sea colorfully illuminated by the setting sun. Out of its depths the mirror images of the golden mountain tops were gleaming. Hundreds of snow-white egrets were escorting us in a long line.

At the terminal stop of Moji a festive reception was awaiting me. Three Japanese warships were moored there: „Yaeyama“, „Takao“ and „Manchu“ fired the gun and board salute despite the fact that the sun had already set. Moji, which actually forms a single harbor with Shimonoseki on the opposite shore, is a newer urban settlement whose growth dates only back to 1891, as since that year the Kyushu railway ended there. In a barge we crossed the one mile wide strait of Van der Capellen or Shimonoseki. After a short journey we landed in Shimonoseki and thus at the South-western-most point of the large island of Hondo. As much as I could distinguish during the dusk, we had set foot in a very charming spot on earth. In the North of the harbor city rise steep but not high wooden hill ranges that provide cover against the raw Northern winds and thus in combination with the Southern orientation of Shimonoseki ensure a very favorable local climate.

Sanyodo — that is the area on the sunny side of the mountain — is the name of the landscape in whose province Choshiu the city of Shimonoseki is located which actually only consists of an about 3 km long road. We walked through a cordon constituted out of a battalion of fortress artillery to the house assigned to us that was dominating the harbor in which the same niceties, the same local comforts were offered as in the other Japanese houses that we had seen earlier.

The entrance to the strait is strongly fortified. Already above Kokura begin the fortifications consisting of seven forts equipped with modern batteries which continue by the island of Hiki to Shimonoseki. These fortifications are the fruits of the experiences the Japanese made in 1864. In that year Shimonoseki was, despite the brave Japanese resistance, completely shot up by a fleet composed of English, French, Dutch ships and a single warship of the United States of America, so that the daimyo of Choshiu had to ask for peace and pay an indemnity of nearly 7,500.000 fl. in Austrian currency. This act of violence had been caused by the said daimyo who had started to fire on all foreign ships that tried to pass through the strait of Shimonoseki.

After the dinner at which I sat between two mute government officials as they only were able to speak Japanese an illuminated fishing trip in the sea was set to happen. In a large transport boat we drove alongside the festively illuminated city close to the shore until we reached a spot where about 50 fishing boats had assembled. Each of it carried at the fore a flash-light of lighter wood. The principle of catching fish here as apparently of the same kind as our brave boatswain Zamberlin used at Owa raha with the difference that the fish here were not staked by Zamberlin but instead caught in small scooping nets or more correctly intended to be caught. A large number of dignitaries had escorted us whose puffing barges driving up and down may have enlivening the image but disturbed the water very strongly and thus made all sea animals flee out of the surrounding area. An eel-like fish as well as a clueless squid formed our only catch. This, however, proved sufficient to witness the skill of the fishermen. They discovered their catch already at great depth an caught it fast as lightning in their net.

Links

  • Location: Shimonoseki, Japan
  • ANNO – on 05.08.1893 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 „Die goldene Märchenwelt“.

Nagasaki, 3 August 1893

Dense fog down to the sea level prevented any views and furthermore the rain was pouring down without a break. Jupiter Pluvius who had now been chasing me some time during my voyage did not want to step out of character here too. That the cranky weather god would open up the sluices of heaven just today, I took all the more personally as during the last six weeks not a drop had fallen on the landscape here, so that the inhabitants had already started processions to implore the gods for plenty of rain for the highly endangered rice harvest. If this demand could not have been satisfied earlier I would have preferred a slight postponement.

At least the bad weather did not prevent me to visit Nagasaki in the morning even if a pouring rain of audiences and official visits had to be endured.

Just after the standard had been hoisted with a flag salute, the harbor was filled with the echoes of the guns of the anchoring warships. Each of which offered its salute of 21 shots, a honorable salute that always creates a very lofty feeling in me as it performed in honor of our standard.

Right after these salutes our gangway was besieged by a fleet of barges and boats out of which emerged a nearly endless row of dignitaries: admirals and ship commanders, the governor of the Ken (department) Nagasaki, Takeaki Nakano; the bishop and apostolic vicar J. A. Cousin; the mayor of Nagasaki; the members of the consular corps and the Japanese entourage assigned to me. It consisted of the vice grand master of the Imperial department for ceremonies (Shikibu Shiki), Yoshitane Sannomiya who in general was in charge of such voyages as I was undertaking. Then the master of the Imperial kitchen (Daisen Shiki) K. Jamanouji; finally the captain of the line Kurvaka and the privy secretary of the war minister, Major M. Muraki. The gentlemen present were able to speak partly German partly French. Three of them had visited Europe and especially also Vienna in order to study the administration and the ceremonies of our court.

After the crowding of dignitaries came to an end during the afternoon, I drove on land to visit Nagasaki. For the first time I set foot on Japanese ground and found myself surrounded by all those delicate colorful scenes come to life,  even though the city no longer has a pure Japanese character but shows many effects of European influence, that constitute the content of our imagination of Japanese life that we form out of books and the images from their artistic and industrial products.

Walking along the narrow and still airy clear streets because the small houses are seldom more than a story high, we practised applied ethnography by „peeping into the windows“ („fensterlnd„). The houses made out of wood and paper offered views not only into the living rooms of the Japanese but also into life going on there. As every cover of the houses towards the street is made only out of movable walls that are often removed during the day so that the full interior is exposed to the glances of those passing by. The division of the interior rooms is formed by wooden walls covered with paper and often artfully painted. These walls can on demand be taken out and moved.

A small Japanese house thus is capable of being adapted to the space requirements of its inhabitants in a way that astonishes us used to the fixed immovable walls of our buildings.  A Japanese house thus is not an „immovable property“ in our native sense. What we saw of furniture is of the most modest kind. With the exception of a few appliances for the most necessary use, this is formed mostly by beautiful light yellow straw mats that cover the ground of all living rooms. All the more diverse are the genial productive craft activities that are done in workshops and shops and confirm the industriousness and artistry of the Japanese.

Continuing to walk in the streets we witnessed domestic activities common to the daily life of the Japanese people but also some charming family scene played itself out in front of us and not a few sons and daughters of Nippon we could observed in all kinds of phase of intimate life. While in our customs and manners at home there is a sharp division between domestic and public life, where the door is noisily locked, here a similar separation does not exist. Life within the house that is open to us passes indiscernibly into life on the street and vice versa the life on the street seems to sweep unimpeded into the homes.

Wherever we were looking we encountered cleanliness and neatness in a pleasant contrast to the dirtiness characteristic of the Chinese.

The European civilization which has established itself in Nippon in a surprisingly quick period is already expressed by the clothing, not particularly favorable to the Japanese whose figures and forms are not really suitable for European clothing. The upper classes of the Japanese society use nearly exclusively European clothing which are almost mandatory at court and for the officials while the mass of the people continues to hold on to the ancient way of clothing, inherited for generations, even though the lower classes too have made concessions to the new fashion and thus the local customs are breached more and more. As a dedicated friend of all national dresses I deplore the replacement of the very becoming Japanese costumes by our equalizing soulless clothing. So many Japanese who would make a good appearance in their local dress look strange, that is not to say hilarious if they are wearing a frock coat and ornamented with a top hat, walking majestically or bowing incessantly.

Men and women rush past us and namely, if they have remained faithful to the local tradition, always fanning, scuttling and rattling on sandals and wooden high heeled shoes (Getas). The men seemed to me, except for some individual sympathetic and even well-shaped ones, on average rather unattractive. In their faces, the features of the Mongolian race are to be found very pronounced, their size is small and their legs are conspicuously often bow-legged.

In comparison to the men, the female part of the population has to be called almost pretty. or more precisely, extremely delicate. All the Japanese women who we saw were of the same type and gave the impression of a charming porcelain figure come alive while they smiling and joking scuttled along the streets.

Now and then we met a girl with a noticeably regular and beautiful physiognomy that would have been fully appreciated if compared to the features of European beauties. The stroll through Nagasaki, however, already allowed me to form my opinion that the travel descriptions I have read and so many messages that I received that excessively praised Japanese women if they described the girls of this location as the most beautiful daughters of Eve. Such praise can only be upheld on account of truly individual tastes and special motives. The charming effect of the always cheerful girlish figures lies in their harmonic neatness and delicateness of their appearances that are however too doll-like for European beauty standards in order to claim to represent an ideal female type. Unfortunately the youthful freshness of the Japanese woman withers very fast so that only rarely one can spot a beautiful woman which is also increased by the for us incomprehensible custom of the women blackening their teeth and shaving their eye brows — disfiguring customs that are said, however, to be only rarely still practised among the upper classes of society but still common among the lower classes.

Even though Japanese women still are forced in popular opinion even today to sacrifice their exterior to their husband, the ladies here go even further than seems absolutely necessary as every Japanese woman, both adult and girl, devotes special care for her clothing and hairdo. We had the opportunity to collect experiences as we witnesses how so many a beauty prepared her styling. And we could appreciate this spectacle not only in a covert manner but frank and open, looking from the street into the boudoirs we became acquainted with the most intimate secrets of the arts that the Japanese women use to entrap. Our curiosity, by the way, was not in the least resented and none of the delicate paper walls were moved to provide cover from the unbidden glances, quite to the contrary the watched ladies waved friendly at us or burst into a bright laughter if they became aware about our astonishment about the unexpected liberal customs.

The most complicated part of the daily styling is the hairdo that is given the most attention and only redone every third or fourth day because the construction of such a miracle, similar to those of the Chinese women, requires enormous care and about two hours of time. I understandably did not have the patience to witness the creation of such an artful build-up from the beginning to the end but felt satisfied with the revelation that countless inlays made out of papier mâché provided the interior support for the audaciously rising arrangements that extend to the rear in coquettish lines as well as lavishly used hair grease and oils supplied the exterior smoothness and gloss. Pins, combs, flowers, feathers, bands and all kinds of gewgaw were attached to the hair and make a major contribution to the overall presentation.

Apparently there exist up to 60 different kinds of hairdos that even have special connotations for the insiders by revealing the status and the intentions of the wearer, so that Japan’s women can speak by using a „hair code“ while in our home countries the beauties only know how to speak with flowers and fans. A widow who was not disinclined to find new luck in a new marriage is said to wear her hair in a certain kind of way while a widow that had ceased to adhere to Hymen may express this by a simple hairdo, apparently a sign of resignation. This meaningful practical use of hairdos can not be denied which will be readily admitted at least by suitors. A single glance on the head of the desired one will instruct the wildly beating heart if there is hope of having a chance or not.

A really charming effect is produced by the national dress of the Japanese women. This consists of a Kimono, a dress that reaches down to the ankles and is somewhat open in front with wide baggy sleeves, that is held together by a broad sash called Obi that is knotted together on the back into a bow. The Kimono hugs the forms softly and effortlessly and provides it with an extreme graciousness and presents its in a most favorable way. I believe, however, that only the delicate, discretely shaped forms of the Japanese women are suitable for the Kimono. That is by the way also a piece of clothing for male Japanese if they are not yet wearing European clothes. It is just cut shorter and simpler than those worn by the women. The men’s Obi is a piece of linen repeatedly wound around the loins into which the samurai — the vassals of the shogun, the de facto ruler of the country who exercises the Imperial right to rule as well as the daimyo, the large feudal lords — pushed two swords during earlier times, while the belt now only has a peaceful purpose since the prohibition of bearing arms of the year 1876 and serves to hold besides the dress itself also the fan and the smoking tools.

At first it makes a strange impression on a European to see children dressed like adults but one soon gets accustomed to this sight and enjoys seeing these cute small humans who in their clothes seemed to be more than they actually are. As the physical and mental development of  the youth under Japan’s sky happens apparently very quickly we saw not a few children who, despite their tender age, made very precocious faces and acted so controlled that they often enough caused great hilarity among us.

Nagasaki, whose streets we were strolling through in constantly refreshed curiosity, is of the greatest historical interest for Europeans and especially for Christians. Still one of the most  important trading ports of Japan, Nagasaki rose quickly from a poor fishermen’s  village after the daimyo of Omura permitted the Portuguese in the middle of the 16th century to settle there. Christendom developed its deepest roots on Kyushu amidst the native population. Here the apostle of Japan, a disciple of Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Franz Xaver, set foot on Japanese soil in 1549 at Kagoshima. Within a relatively short time Christendom expanded to a surprising extent, favored by various circumstances; but probably this great success was the cause for a reaction that turned to ever more bloody persecutions that were happening in the whole country based on a proclamation of the shogun Ieyasu in the year 1614. The persecution of Christians might have dwarfed that of the Roman Empire as thousands upon thousands went to their most cruel death in admirable steadfastness to their beliefs. Glorious witnesses of the bloody acts arose for the church in that far away part of the world. While the newly created religion emerged strengthened from the blood baths in the Roman Empire, in Japan the creed of the salvation was successfully eradicated by the cruel actions against the believers.

In 1636, after two decades of continuous atrocities, 30.000 to 40.000 Christians of the principality of Arima and other areas on the island of Kyushu took up arms, set up a defense in the old castle on Shimbara and neighboring islands and put up a heroic resistance under the leadership of Nirada Shiro for three months in 1637 against Itakura Shigemasa sent to suppress them. Finally the castle was conquered and its brave defenders were butchered. Streams of blood flew, thousands of captured Catholics were carried to the island of Taka-boko rising more than 60 m out of the sea offshore to the Western entrance of Nagasaki’s harbor and there pushed into the sea from the dizzy heights. The Dutch called this island in memory of these horrible scenes „Hill of the Papists“ but did not themselves act honorably if the historical record is correct. Blinded by their hatred against Catholicism and their trading envy the Dutch are said to have supported with arms the shogun in his fight against the rebellious Catholics.

The blood bath of Shimbara was followed by the banishment of the Portuguese, the nearly complete suppression of Christendom, that survived only in parts and namely close to Nagasaki in the large community of Urakami up to the present day, and the start of the era of the most complete seclusion with which Japan isolated itself completely up to the present time. The Chinese and the Dutch kept up an nearly exclusive trade with the West and that only in a very limited fashion. The Dutch had to give up their factory in Hirado in 1641 and settle on Deshima (offshore island), an artificial mound of soil that was surrounded by a wall and a moat as well as only connected to Nagasaki by a stone bridge whose gate was under the protection of a Japanese guard. Thus under very severe lock, if not to say imprisonment, about twenty Dutch at a time kept up trade between Japan and the mother country from which at first only one ship was allowed annually to enter and later eight of them.

The advantages of this trade must have been in fact remarkable in order to compensate for all the truly not inconsiderable humiliations the Dutch had to endure for more than two hundred years. Thus the resident of Deshima had to undertake an annual voyage to Edo (Tokyo) at great cost and under most severe supervision according to a very precisely fixed ceremonial protocol in order to offer presents to the shogun and display their deference in a festive ceremony by crawling on all fours towards the shogun hidden behind a curtain, place the head on the floor and crawl back like a crab.

At a subsequent less festive presentation it was the duty of the Dutch companions of the resident to serve as entertainment for the women and the other members of the court by having to sing, dance and play drunk and other foolish things on the shogun’s order. What Homo sapiens is willing to do for filthy lucre! The old Deshima,  the eternally memorable place of commercial spirit and deep humiliation became a victim of a fire and has been replaced by a new settlement — as if the huge changes in the the relations of the present time had an effect on the past and wanted to spare the Europeans from coming to face with the inglorious warning about ancient Japan by reforming that place!

During the stroll through Nagasaki we often stopped to enjoy the scenery, as far as the somewhat better weather permitted. The view the harbor offers in its surrounding had already enchanted us during the entrance. The bay of Nagasaki is, as previously noted, delimited in the West by Taka-boko while the other sides are surrounded by gently inclining hills and mountains rising to up to 400 m, so that the harbor has a character of a snugly hidden mountain lake. These heights are filled with cultures of all kinds in their lower parts and now and then are small groves, villages, temples and tiny houses. The upper parts are in some places very picturesquely covered with pine trees, Japanese cedars and camphor trees. All shades of the color scale were lighting down from the mountain tops to the cultured, flower-covered regions and the blueish glittering sea. There on the sea smooth as a mirror lay moored mighty warships and large vehicles with a peaceful purpose. Numerous fishing boats were on the move and all kinds of barges were intermingled.

Even though Nagasaki, which counts 58.000 inhabitants, does not have a productive back country like the cities of Yokohama and Kobe it is still an important trading place thanks to its harbor which can be entered by ships of all sizes which exports tortoiseshell products, lacquer and earthenware as well as stone coal, rice, tea etc.

That they expect preferably to sell to foreigners is shown by the numerous shops filling the streets that offer Japanese products of all kinds, namely those that we are familiar with as curiosities. These shops marked by their English signs as the most advanced seemed to me to offer the most tasteful and solid articles. But the exorbitant prices are similar. The owner expresses them with a smile, only to offer a rebate at the right moment to incited the shopping mad foreigner to further acquisitions. The place of Kyushu, combining the island of the same name and its territory, is the seat of a very famous ancient porcelain and ceramic industry. Thus we saw everywhere Arita or Hisen porcelain, furthermore Amakusa porcelain with porcelain stones from the group of islands of Amakusa and Satsuma earthenware with its colorful and splendid paint on a yellowish foundation that might be highly esteemed in Europe but  is not especially to my taste.

We had already strolled past a considerable number of shops and turned our steps now to one of the numerous tea houses which here serve as a replacement for restaurants. The tea houses are very delicately built and contain a number of rooms that can be made larger or smaller thanks to the movability of the walls according to the demands as well as open verandas. Here the guests come not only to sip the usual refreshments such as tea, sake that is rice wine that has a similar taste like sherry etc. but to eat a full dinner. As the local custom requires that such symposia are animated by productions by female singers and dancers we had given orders to ask for such female artists, Geishas, who are never staying in the tea house but are living nearby and have to be asked  to come.

We had just taken a seat in an open veranda on the soft mats when the hostess appeared with a flock of waitresses, — they are usually called with the word „Nesan“ — girls aged from 10 to 18 years, to serve the dinner in a myriad of small lacquered bowls, dishes, small cups and small plates. Even though the cooking was understandably to fully to our taste, I found the dishes nevertheless much more appetising than the Chinese cooking. Fish and rice constitute the main components of the menu to which we at first drank rice wine until I discovered the existence of bear whereas we refreshed ourselves with the noble  amber nectar („Gerstensaft“).

During the dinner the female singers performed first. They were young girls all clothed and coiffed in the same manner and strongly made up who took their seats at our side with numerous bows and started to sing accompanied by the sounds of a mandolin-like instruments, Gekin and Biwa, that were played with clappers. The singing spanned only a few notes and produced a very monotonous effect. The attempt to incited the ladies to a much funnier song or at least to an increase in speed of their presentation by the infusion of sake failed completely.

Very delicate and charming was the production of the female dancers whose choreographic movements were performed in a way that we could only admire their skill and flexibility, but in the main their successful pursuit of performing every figure in the most perfect form possible. Even though these female artists were educated in a school of dancing masters, their natural grace in the character of the Japanese people is still unmistakable in the way it makes the dancers stand out.  The manner in which they stepped forward and backward, turn, bow and rise, hold their fan and move, creating folds in their clothing and play with their long sleeves — all this breathes the perfect grace. Hour upon hour the Japanese manage to enjoy this spectacle sitting quietly on the mats and sipping tea. In all admiration for the artists I would not have the patience to enjoy myself during such long-winded productions that might be very interesting but especially for a foreigner who is not completely familiar with the matter becomes monotonous in time. The dances were meant to illustrate particular actions that naturally remained totally incomprehensible to us.

At the end of the show a prodigy was presented, a girl of 13 years, the prima ballerina of the quarter and the pride of her dancing instructor. This artist showed a number of difficult dances and evolutions with the help of masks, flowers etc. in a truly excellent manner. A Japanese in our company was truly enchanted and smiled blissfully in view of such a perfect display of art. I however could not desist, perhaps not taking the Japanese situation fully into account, from a home-grown feeling of opposition to putting children on display for whatever purposes.

From the veranda of the tea house we enjoyed the rewarding view on Nagasaki’s surroundings and the city itself. Like colorful bands the small house gardens extend from one part to the other, some real miniature installations that had in very narrow delimited space all kinds of decorations, furthermore blooming flowers in large numbers and small trees cut in a baroque style.

In the narrow streets the fleeting djinn rickshaws are rolling up and down. I entrusted myself, having well enough tasted the different culinary and artistic delights offered in the tea house, into the care of one of these vehicles and so took a drive through the city and then return in the late evening on board where I was necessary to make preparations for my disembarkation and the voyage on land.

While I was in the city, the governor had sent on board a number of photographs that showed both parts of Nagasaki and its surroundings and all kinds of scenes and types, as well as a pair of lovely bantams — a consideration for which I thank the kind donor.

Links

  • Location: Nagasaki, Japan
  • ANNO – on 03.08.1893 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 „Das goldene Kreuz“.
The Wiener Salonblatt No. 32 notes the safe arrival of Franz Ferdinand in Nagasaki.

The Wiener Salonblatt No. 32 notes the safe arrival of Franz Ferdinand in Nagasaki.

Nagasaki, 2 August 1893

In the morning there were heavy rainstorms from South-west and South-South-east. Due to the rough sea „Elisabeth“ was at times pitching up to 18°. In the late morning the island of Udsi was sighted for a short time. Towards noon we saw the group of the Koshiki islands. Then a heavy rains poured down on us that prevented sighting anything and only after 4 o’clock in the afternoon it cleared up a bit so that Nomo Cape came into view and we now could set the course for the harbor of Nagasaki.

Nagasaki lies on Kyushu (nine provinces), the most Southern of the large Japanese islands. The Empire of Japan, also known as Nippon or Nihon, of 382.412 km2 and 40.718.677 souls, contains, as it is well known, a number of islands of which four are of considerable size, namely Kyushu, Shikoku, Nippon or Hondo, the mainland that constitutes the actual Japan and finally to the North of it, Yezo. The rest of Japan’s surface is divided among a number of smaller islands.

A tall pillar of smoke revealed the small island of Taka at the entrance to the long-winded bay of Nagasaki, on which the sincerely bad fat coal is extracted with which the steamers entering Nagasaki usually are supplied.

The island of Kyushu or, more precisely, its Western heavily broken up peninsula of Hizen appears as a mountainous area fully covered by greenish vegetation. The coast and especially its offshore islands feature grotesque shapes in multiple places. In general, the entrance resembles that of a Norwegian fjord despite all the splendour of the harbor of Nagasaki as the about three sea miles long water strait leads in multiple turns between islands and land tongues until finally the harbor opens up and the city of Nagasaki — the „long promontory“ — becomes visible in a basin and and on the mountain sides in the background of the bay. A sharp division separates the clear European villa quarter out of which rise the signal masts of the consulates from the Japanese part of the city whose monotonous grey sea of houses extends at the North-eastern beach. At the entrance to the inner harbor are marine establishments, docks etc. of the Japanese naval station.

Already in the open sea we had been expected by the Japanese torpedo cruiser „Yaeyama“ and, having signalled its intention to serve as a guide, drove as a pilot ship in front of „Elisabeth“. From the deck of „Yaeyama“ the music band sent over sounds that apparently were intended to represent our anthem — a consideration we felt obliged to return by playing the Japanese anthem in reply.

I entered without standard into the harbor of Nagasaki which made the Japanese desist to fire gun and yard salutes from the numerous anchored warships for which all the preparations had already been made. A torpedo boat circled around us in the harbor at lightning speed and assigned us our anchorage that was marked by a flag in our colors swimming in the water. At the entrance of the harbor lay a larger English cruiser, „Leander„, that had been forced by machine damage to call here. Furthermore there was a squadron of Japanese warships in the harbor, that is namely:  the flagship „Itsukushima„, then the ships „Matsushima“, „Takawo“, „Takatshiho“, „Kaimon“ and „Katsuragi“, joined by our pilot ship „Yaeyama“. All these warships represent imposing beautiful ships that have been built based on the most modern models and have been armed with all innovations of maritime technology and arms as Japan sacrificed considerably to build its fleet and is quite a bit proud about its naval force that currently contains 55 ships with 55.053 t, 79.694 indicated horse powers and 439 guns as well as a complement of 6815 men.

Still during the evening our ambassador Rüdiger Baron von Biegeleben came on board in gala dress to inform me about the program of my stay in Japan about which I learned to my astonishment that my desire to drive on board of „Elisabeth“ up to Yokohama and only there officially start the journey could not be fulfilled. The preparations for the journey across the country had already been made and the representatives of the Japanese entourage whom I asked for to meet in Yokohama had already arrived in Nagasaki. Therefore I had to pass on driving on my dear „Elisabeth“ through the often praised inland sea and quietly visit at least a part of Japan in an unofficial capacity  and had to have me guided across the country by Japanese dignitaries already from Nagasaki in a festive procession, a sort of triumphal  cortege.

Links

  • Location: Nagasaki, Japan
  • ANNO – on 02.08.1893 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 „Don Juan“.

At Sea to Nagasaki, 1 August 1893

The journey continued in good slightly misty weather and assisted by the fresh monsoon from South-South-west as well as favorable wind conditions. During the night the air pressure again showed a tendency of decreasing.

Links

  • Location: In the East China Sea
  • ANNO – on 01.08.1893 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 „Lohengrin“.

At Sea to Vancouver, 26 August to 4 September 1893

During the first two days the weather was mild and agreeable, we could spend the time on deck in light clothing. Then we came into the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands and the region of the North and North-east winds which carry ice cold air from the polar regions so that the thermometer suddenly dropped to 7° C.  and the temperature difference was keenly felt. A few days ago we were exposed to 34° C.! All passengers put on winter clothes, furs or plaids and the air heating of the cabins was activated.

Life on board takes a rather regular turn. At half past 7 o’clock the gong calls to breakfast. The meals are eaten in a  beautiful spacious dining room. Otherwise we spend most of the day on the long deck. A very active committee consisting of the second captain and some passengers arranges a number of games which entertain the majority of passengers. Those who do not want to participate in the games sit, covered in plaids, in long cane chairs and read or run to and fro to stay in motion. These „runs“ are especially popular after the meals, namely among the English and American ladies who do almost incredible things. They would probably break the best records by running arm in arm of two or three persons with very long not always gracious strides and turning the edge of the deck unsafe.

During the first days my time was spent adding my travel recollections of our stay in Japan. Later I met more and more of our fellow passengers among whom there were some kind people. Opposite of my cabin lives an English painter who thankfully is able to speak French. He travels around the world for the third time, while his wife is undertaking this „small journey“ already for the eighth time. The turbulent life seems not to please the artist anymore. When we asked him if these numerous voyages of his wife were not burdensome, he answered: „Enfin, c’est une maladie comme une autre!“ Among the passengers on board is also a Prince Galitzin, who has lost an arm in Paris  in a rather prosaic way, a rich tea merchant with two blond daughters as well as a number of other ladies of various ages.

With a charming small American woman I play daily multiple games of tennis without being able to make conversation with her as she only speaks English. But we nevertheless entertain ourselves very well. Clam and another American woman are the partners. Our ground is actually terrible because it is much too small, about half the normal size and covered at 3 m in height. During the pitching movements we furthermore stand on shaky ground. We also have to always pick up the two available balls ourselves that roll around on the whole ship after each play so that there is always a small chase and search. This all does not disturb our pleasure to play tennis on the open sea.

Three other games I often participated in require a certain skill in throwing disks and rubber rings at certain numbers. Cricket, which the English would not miss, was always very agitated so that already on the first day a gentleman had broken a finger and two further players left the field of battle with injuries. A ball organized by the entertainment committee was a failure as nobody wanted to play music and dance at first and later when the Wagner enthusiast played a waltz, even though he considered this beneath him, only American couples began to dance so that the ball ended quickly. If all the ladies in the New World obey the custom of only dancing with their husbands, how boring must balls be on that continent!

Besides the games on deck, especially during the evenings, singing was honored both in individual and choir form. But due to the complete lack of good voices and the circumstance that the participants tended to sing off-key on principle the performance did in no way equal the effort put into it and produced no entertaining feasts for the ears.

With true English rigor the strict Sunday rules were executed. The paymaster performed a service. In the morning and afternoon endless chorals were sung. No game was allowed to be played. Even the Wagnerian had to stay away from the piano and when our hunters tried to play a harmless game of cards in the bar room, this was instantly prohibited. In the evening of 3rd September there was even a disputation between two Protestant pastors that the passengers listened to with devotion. One of them was Anglican, the other a Norwegian missionary, actually an unfortunate misshaped man who had lost nearly all the knowledge of European languages and customs during his six year stay in the interior of China and became the butt of jokes and taunts on board. Special hilarity was caused when he was photographed by Hodek in the costume of a Tibetan Lama.

Until 1st September the sea remained calm only a North-eastern wind produced some light ripples — weather conditions that are actually not to be expected during this season. The horizon was cloudy in the morning and the evening but the weather cleared up a bit up to noon. During the first nights we had beautiful moonshine. The color of the sea was no longer the beautiful blue or green that we were used to seeing. It was more of a leaden blue turning toward black.

A large number of various guillemots, seagulls and stormbirds were flying around our ship. Even a small representative of an albatross species showed up. But I could not determine these sky fliers more closely as there existed no sufficiently knowledgeable expert about the named bird species as this was a very unexplored and quite unknown field of ornithology.

On 30th August we passed 180 degrees longitude and now the 24 hours lost on our journey towards the East were recovered so that we countered two consecutive days of 30th August.

The ship covered 350 to 360 miles per day. In favorable winds, the sails were also set but this did not have a visible effect on the speed.

As mentioned,  the calm weather until 1st September changed and wind jumped to South-east and brought so high waves with it that even the giant „Empress“ was mightily thrown around even though the ship is well adapted for the sea and moves quite comfortably. Nevertheless all passengers became more or less sea-sick and when the weather did not calm down on 2nd September there was almost nobody else on deck beside me and my gentlemen. Staying on deck, by the way, was not very comfortable due to the cold and breaking waves. The next day returned us the sun and we had once more as beautiful a journey as earlier.

On 4th September, the next to last day spent on sea, a collection was made among the passengers and the amount collected was donated for crew games that were quite animated and offered the English sailors the opportunity to display their skills. The program covered 12 numbers among them an obstacle race over rope barriers and banks as well as through life-savers. The competitors had in the „Finish“ to crawl through a wind sail  strewn with flour and caused many hilarious scenes. Also a flat race,  a sack race, a tug-of-war and a „potato race“ were organized. In the latter those could claim a prize if they managed to be the first to to put a certain number of potatoes that had been distributed on deck into a bucket. Then followed cock fights,  a long jump etc.

After the dinner a festive air dedicated to captain Archibald and his officers composed and authored by the Wagnerian was performed by a mixed choir with dreadful dissonances.

Finally came the moment where I was pleased not to speak English as this lack spared me a bad fate. After the canons had ended,  the name of one of the gentlemen rang out among the circle: „Speak, speak“, so that the miserable chosen one could not but rise and give a speech. This custom was upheld until nearly all the gentlemen had spoken and the ship and the happy voyage praised sufficiently. When later everybody’s ship uncle Prince Galitzin with a friendly smile and some encouraging words awarded brooches and photographs of the ship to the ladies and gentlemen who had been the most skilful at the games, the speech torture was repeated for its uncomfortable victims.

Finally it was again time to sing but I fled as everybody was fully committed to mercilessly present all their complete repertoire and enjoyed the splendor of the cloudless starry sky on deck.

Links

The Wiener Salonblatt No. 35 reports FF's departure from Yokohama towards North America.

The Wiener Salonblatt No. 35 reports FF’s departure from Yokohama towards North America.

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Die Afrikanerin“.

At Sea to Vancouver, 25 August 1893

In the morning appeared Baron Biegeleben to greet me at the head of the embassy staff and consul general Kreitner as well as the gentlemen of the Japanese entourage whose helpfulness and unceasing industry I fully acknowledge. Also the officials and court servants assigned to us, among them my friend the lifeguard and the man with the always drawn sword who we nicknamed the „executioner“, came to thank for the decorations awarded to them. For the permanent memory about the common voyage I had myself photographed with all the gentlemen of the staff. Then a festive service was held.

Finally the difficult moment had arrived of having to say good-bye to our brave ship, the gentlemen of the staff who I all came to esteem and who were always eager to make my life on board as agreeable as possible, and the brave crew. „Elisabeth“ had become my home during the eight month voyage while she carried us so faithfully across the distant seas, I have felt content, happy and every time after a longer stay on land I always returned with a feeling of joy on board that a traveler experiences when he returns to the home ground from a foreign land.

Here I learned about the good military mind and the excellent team spirit that rules among our naval officer corps. Thanks to the prudence and care of our dear commander who spare no efforts and was day and night at his post to fulfil his honorable but difficult task in any moment, thanks to the excellent leadership of our first officer, thanks to the efficiency and diligence of our navigation officer, finally thanks to the dutiful devotion of the whole staff the destination of our joint voyage has been to the pride and joyful satisfaction of all successfully reached. The quick journey of the part made by steam in connection with the relatively short stay in the various ports had placed many demands especially on the machine room crew that has always fulfilled them in any relation.

With great satisfaction I need to mention the truly exemplary behavior of the crew that kept to their stations and fulfilled their duty faithfully even under the most trying situations, especially so in tropical climates, without having access to the same conveniences of making it more bearable that I had available. A very strong mention is deserved finally by the fact that our crew always acted without blemish on land despite the not always good examples shown to them by American and English sailors. Despite the most tempting promises, not a single case of desertion has taken place.

Our navy has met once again fully the high expectations set in it, and led our flag proudly through the wide ocean to distant lands. Providence has guarded the ship that had to prove itself on its first journey, a favorable star shone above it, as no earnest danger imperilled „Elisabeth“ and no accident happened. Among the number assembled on its planks, death has claimed no victim and no severe illness has struck us.

I walked once more along the front of the crew assembled on parade on deck, said a heartfelt good-bye to all the gentlemen of the staff and entered the gala boat with the commander. When the staff rushed to the bridge and the crew moved to the salute positions and a thunderous hurrah rang out three times to the sound of our anthem, tears ran down my cheeks — I am not ashamed to acknowledge this. The memories about the time I spent on „Elisabeth“ are among the most valuable of my life and will always stay with me.

The „Empress of China“ was ready for departure, but the gangway was still filled with lively commotion. The gentlemen of the embassy and the consulate with their ladies had come once more to greet us. Relations and friends of the other passengers had turned up to say good-bye. We exchanged a last handshake with Becker and Jedina, the machine of the “Empress of China” started to work and the giant ship turned towards the exit of the port. From the Japanese warships and „Elisabeth“ shouts of Hurrah were heard, the music band oft he latter played our anthem and „O, du mein Österreich“. Next to the exit of the port, we exchanged salutes by signals and waved at our faithful companions of our voyage until “Elisabeth” was but a small white spot and Yokohama also slowly disappeared out of our sight.

On board of „Empress“, a totally new life was beginning as I could no longer move as freely as on „Elisabeth“ and I was limited to the so called promenade deck. The bridge was considered a sanctuary not to be entered. We miss the military signals, commands and calls, the shrill whistle of the boatswain, in a word everything that makes life homely for a soldier on a warship. Instead of our fast sailors we see stiff Englishmen, moody Americans and slant-eyed Chinese; instead of German, Italian and Croatian sounds we only hear English and English once more. Neither reveille nor retraite are sounded, only the dull sound of the gong calls to breakfast, lunch and dinner. The music band that used to please us twice a day with pieces from home is here replaced with an enraged Wagnerian who mistreats a lamentable piano from early in the morning to late in the evening so that one could become furious and wants to become a member in a piano protections society.

„Empress of China“, built in London in 1891, is a beautiful large ship owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. This railway company has three of these steamers in service between Hongkong and Vancouver in order to thus gain passengers for their line across Canada. Whether these covers the costs I do not know as the costs of service are huge and the number of passengers most of the time small.

The key dimensions of the ship are: 139 m length, 15,5 m width and depth. The deplacement is 5904 t, loading capacity is 3008 t; the direct force three times expansionary machine has 10.000 indicated horsepower and provides the steamer with a maximum speed of 18 knots per hour. Coal consumption is 200 t in 24 hours at full power. The rigging consists of four pillar masts with gaff sails. The interior board lighting is fully electric. The ship has space for 170 first class passengers, 26 steerage and 406 deck passengers. At the moment there are 72 of the first category, 7 of the second and 160 passengers of the third category on board. Captain of „Empress of China“ is R. Archibald, reserve officer of the British navy. The crew consists of 71 Europeans and 142 Chinese. My spacious and comfortable cabin — except for a short bed — is located under the bridge and next to the deck salon.

As on any English passenger ship one is quickly turned into passenger number „XY“ and has to comply with the general board instructions that especially strictly limit smoking.

For some time we continued to drive alongside the Japanese coast, escorted by „Yaeyama“ on which had embarked our ambassador, the two legation secretaries and consul general Kreitner. Finally we heard a hurrah from „Yaeyama“ and then we in time lost sight of both the warship and the coast — we steer in the open sea!

Links

  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
  • ANNO – on 25.08.1893 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 „Die Jüdin“.

Yokohama — Tokyo, 23 August 1893

In the morning I again tried my luck to do some shopping in Yokohama and in fact this time guided by the kind Baron Siebold who was completely familiar with Japan and all its aspects thanks to his stay of many years here and also speaking the Japanese language. Unfortunately my efforts were unsuccessful as I tried in vain to find silk and brocade like I bought in Kyoto. I everywhere received the answer that the cloth would have to be ordered first from Kyoto. In contrast I managed to enlarge the board menagerie with lovely white bantams — a full aviary — and enlarge it with one of the already rare cock with their tails of multiple meters in length. I also sent two very cute bears on board that soon became the darlings of the crew and learned in the shortest time to wait in place. Hopefully they arrive at our home healthy as they are intended to be the grace and live in the castle moat at Konopiste.

In the afternoon I wanted to be back in Tokyo and, to evade the lurking eyes of the police, sent Clam and Pronay directly to the capital where they too were festively received by a crowd of over a thousand people and a corresponding contingent of policemen, while I with Siebold exited at the next to last stop and entered Tokyo in rickshaws. The maneuver succeeded too so that we could spend a few hours fully unrestricted and eat a dinner in a restaurant of the beautiful Ueno park.

Links

  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • ANNO – on 23.08.1893 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 „Freund Fritz“.

Nikko — Yokohama, 22 August 1893

As the merciless railway administration had been only willing to provide a special train at no other hour than at 5 o’clock in the morning, we had to get out of bed early to say good-bye to Nikko. At 11 o’clock in the morning we were back at the station of Yokohama which rises in the North-east of the city on land reclaimed from the sea.

Situated like Tokyo in the province of Musashi, it has grown to its current importance out of an unimportant settlement on the West side of the Tokyo bay. Since it had been declared a treaty port in 1859, it thus was opened up for trade with Europe and America. The glory to have breached the system of isolation from foreign trade inaugurated by Ieyasu and enlarged by his nephew Iemitsu belongs to the Americans and especially to Commodore Perry’s expedition in 1854 that ended with the opening of the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate for American trade. Since then Kobe, Osaka, Nagasaki, Hakodate, Niigata and Yokohama have been opened overall as treaty ports and for settlement by foreigners so that the latter settle here in specially designated city quarters and are allowed to travel in the surrounding area of nearly 40 km without special permits.

Instead of Yokohama, by the way, at first Kanagawa, a bit to the North, had been designated as a treaty port but was replaced by Yokohama because of Kanagawa’s location on the Tokaido and thus the thereby always threatening conflicts between the foreigners and the samurai entourage of the traveling daimyos. Yokohama today plays the principal part among the treaty ports as the junction of all steam ship lines that connect Japan to Europe on the one hand and America on the other hand, as a destination for nearly all warships that enter Japan and numerous trading ships and coastal vessels of all kind.

Yokohama, counting 143.000 inhabitants, is quite rightly the point of contact of Japan with the West and the East, the point of entry and departure of trade. This is the reason for the international character of the city which is expressed both externally and in its population.

A quay road built at considerable cost runs alongside the harbor. Custom houses and other mercantile establishments like depots and loading docks serve trade. Nearly 3 km wide extends the foreign settlement in the harbor which has been rebuilt after a fire in 1866 larger and more beautiful, criss-crossed by broad well tended streets and containing residential houses, banks, offices, clubs, hotels and consulates. Numerous foreigners, by the way, only have set up their business location in Yokohama while they have built their residences in a crescent-shaped hill range called Bluff to the West of the city in order to breathe sylvan air and enjoy the beautiful view upon the harbor.

The predominant population are naturally the Japanese but the colony of foreigners, mostly Englishmen and Americans. is large enough to be noticeable in the streets as a leading factor of urban life, so that during a stroll through the city one meets foreigners everywhere, not in the least the sailors landing from the warships who look for relief from the deprivations of long sea voyages.

Even though I had requested to spend my time in Yokohama Incognito and thus to forgo the Japanese entourage, the rickshaw I used to wander through Yokohama and do some shopping was followed immediately by he police prefect, a police official and two reporters which caused understandable commotions in the streets. After other attempts to get rid of this entourage had been in vain, I sought help by using a ruse by going to the Grand Hotel, breakfast there and then leave by the small rear door and take another rickshaw. But the pleasure of the liberty won did not last long. The police soon had been on my tracks and finally arrived at full pace, so that I could only call Sannomiya on the phone. He was soon on the spot and freed me from the undesired entourage. Barely a quarter of an hour later, the procession had again assembled like shadows following my heels. I even believe to have observed that one among the entourage was writing down carefully every object that I bought. Finally I rushed on board not without enjoying the company of a police official following me in a barge.

For the acquisition of those objects I was looking for, Yokohama was not quite an enjoyable place. Even though the number of shops is legion, it was quite difficult to find something matching my tastes which had apparently been developed and refined by the stay in the actual factories of the Japanese art industry, namely in Kyoto. Yokohama’s shops are filled with curiosities in the true sense which is targeted towards the foreigners, especially the Americans who are only seeking to buy some characteristic objects of the country and whose demands have apparently not been quite so beneficial for the local production.

When I offered my opinion to some merchants, they admitted the correctness of the observation but added that it was precisely the mediocre goods if they are only large, colorful even loud and quite baroque that made them bestsellers for America and also for England, while the stylish, discrete and tasteful and thus more valuable objects are little sought.

In the evening I had invited some of the gentlemen of our embassy as well as the Japanese entourage to a dinner on board where songs from home made all guests merry.

Links

  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
  • ANNO – on 22.08.1893 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 „Der fliegende Holländer“.

Tokyo — Nikko, 20 August 1893

In front of the small Catholic mission church where I attended mass the pupils of its nuns assembled for me. The nuns provide excellent service for the education of the children but reasonably keep the Japanese costumes, the usual Japanese greetings and other external traditions. The small musumes are all dressed alike and look very cute. The mother superior, Mater Domitilla, a dignified old lady has been staying for a long time in Japan doing her pious and useful job.

At the visit I paid to the archbishop of Tokyo, a kind Frenchman, I learned from him and a missionary also present many interesting details about the country and its people, but unfortunately also that the propagation of the Christian religion was not showing the desired progress in Japan as the Japanese did not possess much religious sense and are mostly very apathetic in terms of matters of believing.

Until now the number of festivities was so compact that I had not yet found the opportunity to visit the shops of Tokyo. This was to be made up today, the first free day. During my stroll I saw a good part of the city whose enormous extent only now became clear to me but the first impression did not change that the city is behind the other visited Japanese cities as far as originality is concerned. Everywhere pieces of Europe pushed out in a not very stylistic and inharmonious way. The streets one of which measures more than 7 km are too long and have a tiring effect.

Tokyo`s shops, namely the Curio Shops, offer a great variety of objects and thus a rich selection. One believes that all original treasures have already been discovered and bought and still finds new forms and totally unknown objects once more.

In bronze, lacquer, porcelain, wood and paper all the holy animals appeared and especially frequently the dragon that is predominant in Japanese myth, symbolism and art. We also frequently encountered the country`s coat of arms too, namely the schematic flower of the Chrysanthemum, Kiku, and the coast of arms of the house of the Mikado that is formed by the leaves and flowers of Paulownia imperialis, Kiri.

In one of the shops I noticed a wavelike moment of the floor, the walls trembled and the water in the aquariums splashed upwards high into the sky — apparently I lived through one of those earthquakes that strike Tokyo so often and I thought that the underground forces did not want me to leave before they had shown their terrible powers but only at a moderate level thus causing interest but not having a devastating effect. In a distant part of the city one of my gentlemen also noticed the movement of the earth.

Unfortunately I did not have time to buy silk of which it was said that Tokyo was especially rich, as I wanted to pay a visit to our ambassador Baron Biegeleben in the Tokyo Hotel before my departure. It is a first class hotel that is owned by a Japanese and managed by Japanese but still was worthy to be placed in a line with any hotel in England or Switzerland.

The short time that I still had left in Tokyo I used to visit a Japanese theater that is laid out somewhat like our great singing halls. Opposite the entrance is the great stage. The space for the audience is divided into boxes, floor and galleries whereas the first two are divided by half-a-meter high boards in square fields each of which offers space for four to six persons. Banks and chairs don`t exist, everyone is sitting on the floor. The occupants of the boxes, whole families or groups install themselves comfortably in view of the length of the performances —  they last from noon to 10 o’clock in the evening — and bring food and drink.

The theater offers room for ca. 3000 people, and all of them smoke, without any distinction among the sexes. Everywhere there are fireboxes with glowing coals and the matches are only thrown on the ground. The orders of the fire police did not seem to be very demanding which should be the case given that the buildings are made only out of wood, straw and paper. Instead of almond milk, lemonade or similar refreshments that are common at home, here they sell rice, fruit and sake. The continuous rustle of the fans, crying children and the beating of the pipes creates ongoing and varied noise that has quite a negative impact on the art enjoyment.

The quite spacious state is very primitive in matters of changing the scene as it only involves the turning of a disc that has various decorations. The orchestra consisting of only a few musicians sits at the height of the first floor next to the stage in a cage-like space out of which now and then unmelodious sounds reach our ears. To the right and left of the floor and along the full length of it are two board runways called flower paths that lead to the stage. These are used for the entrance and exit of armed groups but also serve for the movements of the actors who act and speak from these runways. During the long breaks, the elegant part of the audience moves to the surrounding tea houses and only return when the play continues to the theater.

The themes of the pieces played in the Japanese theater are mostly taken from the national history which offers inexhaustible themes in the continuous wars among the daimyos. Heated fights, murder, killings and harakiri, that has now gone out of practice, are the climax of most dramatic development. But the presentation of popular life and moral plays are not missing if one may call them thus. Is a piece too long or too tragic in its conclusion, then arbitrary cuts are made and individual acts from other plays inserted. Only men perform as actors but are very good at playing the female parts in voice, posture, gestures and dress. It is not necessary to highlight that we did not understand much about the plot of the piece that was played. It was a piece of the category of a jealousy drama and resulted in an intense fall-out of the lovers according to the gestures and the looks of the actors. Apparently the action was very sad as the audience was visibly moved. Namely the female part of the audience was drenched in tears and at times loud sobbing was heard. But soon we had to tear ourselves away from the play in order to drive to the distant station of Uyeno where the Imperial princes and the ministers had assembled to say good-bye to me.

The railway forms an arc in a Northern direction crossing well tended land until Utsunomiya, where it turns towards the Northwest to reach the for Japanese holy grounds of Nikko. From the shores of the Tone-gawa to just up to Nikko there was an alley of Japanese cedars that was in a class of its own and made a great impression in the darkness of the night, covered in shadows. A pious man who was to poor to pay for a bronze lantern at the sanctuaries of Nikko is said to have planted the alley. Where we today quickly rolled on railtracks, under the Tokugawa shoguns the Reiheishi moved on the road named after him, the envoy of the Mikado who had to present offerings in the mausoleum of Ieyasu at Nikko.

At 11 o’clock in the night we arrived in Nikko where despite the advanced hour there were curious people in great numbers who watched the nearly endless line of djinn rickshaws that winded liked a snake from the station to the Nikko hotel more than 2 km away which is situated in the gully outside of the temple city, close to a temple grove and provided a fitting place to rest for us.

Links

  • Location: Nikko, Japan
  • ANNO – on 20.08.1893 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 a ballet and Viennese waltzes.