Schlagwort-Archiv: sightseeing

Tokyo, 19 August 1893

Before I drove to the parade set for today on the great exercise ground in the West of the city, I was photographed with my Japanese entourage in various poses.

In a gala carriage accompanied by a cavalry escort I covered a quite long distance to the parade ground where I was expected by the Emperor in a richly decorated tent with gold brocade and first the usual cigarettes were smoked. The troops, 7530 men, were not formed into units but a square whose one side was kept open for the Imperial tent and the diplomatic corps, the court servants and the off-duty officers.

The Emperor and I mounted the horses held ready and rode at a walk, followed by the princes, the war minister, the military attaches and multiple higher officers, to the reception flank and then along the front. The infantry stood in battalion masses with developed companies, the cavalry, artillery and the train in developed line. The higher commanders reported the status of the formed troops and then rode along with the entourage.

As at Kumamoto, I had the opportunity here too of being astonished about the performance achieved by the Japanese army administration in a short time. This is in part due to the fruitful studies that the government had had made abroad by military agents who in their quiet, modest and not as impertinent manner as that of some other power know to recognize the positive and learn it. With a rare skill the army administration has managed to adapt foreign practices to the local situation without thoughtless imitation and thus knew to create something truly genuine. It is characteristic that one can recognize without difficulties from the posture of the officers educated abroad where they have been educated as a tautly marching officer must have been the product of German training while others revealed a lighter touch and thus of being a pupil of France.

Riding alongside the front was followed by a march that was performed exceedingly well but made me suspicious about a mistake in the exercise regulations as in my view the order for turning the front was given too late so that those in charge of the wings were involuntarily forced in advance which resulted in an ugly crescent form of the developed companies. The marching, alternating to the sounds of a Japanese march and the Austrian Radetzky march, was executed freely and filling the space. Remarkable is the excellent material which the higher infantry officers are riding even if they are not quite as skilled in the art of riding. Artillery and cavalry — one squadron led by a very small prince on a very tall horse — marched past in a short trot. The batteries were very well aligned, the cavalry however became a bit disordered which can be accounted for by the large number of stallions among the troopers`horses. When the horse of the Emperor became disturbed during the parade, the chief equerry jumped out of the saddle, grabbed a handful of earth and rubbed it into the mouth and nostrils of the horse — a equine calming method that was totally new to me.

As soon as the last battalion of the train had marched past, we dismounted. The Emperor took his leave and I drove in the gala carriage back to our palace where I, after a short rest, set out to attend breakfast at Prince Komatsu Akihito’s.

The princes and their families among the the very pretty daughter in law of the prince apart there were about 15 guests present. My host asked vividly about the health of my father with whom he had dined occasionally during his stay in Vienna and overall, spoke many words about our Imperial city. The whole family was very kind to me so that the breakfast took place in a very casual joyous mood.

In the afternoon I was surprised by Sannomiya in the palace`s garden with a production of the pupils of the Imperial fencing school which offered me an insight into the way of the ancient Japanese art of fencing to my satisfaction. The demonstration showed fights between sword against sword, sword against two swords, lance against sword, finally lance against lance. The swords and lances had been cut out of strong bamboo. Wire head masks, black and red lacquered plastrons as well as greaves protected the fencers. Arms and knees remained uncovered and showed many wounds from heavy hits. Allowed hits were to the head, body, lower arm and neck. The fencers performed quite well and one noticed that they were schooled and exercised in it. Feints and parades seemed unknown as the hits were evaded only by moving the body to the side, forward and backward. What is not missing is the inciting shouts common to al Oriental peoples. An entertaining intermezzo occurred when my Japanese lifeguard put on the mask and started bravely fencing. After the end of each attack whose points were noted by a judge, the fencers greeted each other by kneeling down and bowing their upper body towards the earth.

This production was followed by fishing in the pond of the palace garden. The pond is connected with the sea. The result was however mediocre as only a single fish was caught. As I heard,  the Empress is said to fish with a fishing rod at times but in such cases, the catch would not be splendid too, given today`s results.

In the mean time the hour of the gala dinner had arrived that had been set at 4 o`clock at Their Majesties. The dinner took place according to the same protocol as during the breakfast. Fortunately the temperature in the great festive hall was not as elevated as the day before thanks to the advanced hour of the afternoon. As guests attended the same personalities as those at the breakfast. Emperor Mutsu Hito proposed a toast, translated by the interpreter, then our anthem was played and I replied with a toast to the health of Their Majesties as well as the Imperial house. Naturally then the Japanese anthem was heard. After the dinner I said good-bye to the Empress, the princes and princesses. The Emperor paid me a visit in the Hama palace, in contrast to his customs, and spoke at this occasion about his satisfaction about the favorable impressions I had received in Japan. As a souvenir he gave me a model of a repeating rifle, the invention of a Japanese, that was soon to be introduced in the Japanese army.

The last meal of the day, the supper in our pleasure castle, was flavored with the display of a gorgeous garden illumination and a firework. The garden, by far the greatest ornament of the Hama palaces, already due to its view upon the sea with its myriad of sailing boats, was very favorable put on display by the bright light of the countless lampions that were reflected multiple times in the pond and by the fire of the rockets.

During the supper a fast modeller performed who could form only with his fingers incredibly quickly any imaginable object out of sticky multi-colored rice that looked like wax. First we had the artist model all kinds of animals, then a Japanese woman and finally a gentleman out of the audience — tasks that were perfectly completed.

Links

  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • ANNO – on 19.08.1893 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“.

Kyoto, 14 August 1893

As I had expressed the vivid desire to see the much praised Lake Biwa, we moved with the Tokaido railway there. After a short drive through the inevitable rice paddies when — we had just passed through a tunnel and made a sharp turn to the North-east — the lovely lake lay in front of us shined upon by the rays of the morning sun. At Baba Station Baba the railway car was exchanged for a court carriage that took us to the city of Otsu at the lake shore, the capital of the prefecture of Shiga and the province of Omi, which was already part of the landscape of Tosando, that is the East mountain road. This city has become notorious quite to its own dislike for the wicked assassination attempt in 1891 that was made in one of the streets we were passing through, on the Tsesarevich. This circumstance accounted for the fact that here there were even more police guide lines and instructions to follow. The place was teaming with policemen everywhere.

Lake Biwa is said to owe its name to its form that resembles the instrument named „biwa“. Numerous myths are connected to this lake that plays an important role in Japanese tales and is said to owe its existence like Fuji mountain to an earthquake. With its blueish glittering surface the lake is lovely embedded between green hills and groves. Small villages enclose the shores as the pleasure-seeking Japanese knew how to appreciate the scenic magic of this jewel. An idyll lies in front of us and in the spectator the desire grows to stay and dream here for some time. If one discounts the style of the houses, one might think to be transferred to the shore of Lake Starnberg. Numerous steamers and sailing boats drive to and fro, exchanging the traffic between the different points on the lake shore.

We embarked on a small steamboat that split the blue waves puffing and groaning — it perhaps had never been driven so fast —  but the enjoyment of the trip was unfortunately lessened by incessant use of the steam whistle which seemed to be a bad quality of our vehicle or more precisely that of our commander who by the way was only following the ruling custom: Every encounter, every greeting, every signal is accompanied by the shrill whistle.

At Karasaki, not quite 6 km West of Otsu, at the lake shore we stopped.  The point of attraction here is the famous pine that is said to have already been planted before the birth of Christ. In any case, it dates back to ancient times and justly has become over centuries if not millennia a venerated holy tree. The height of the trunk however is only 27 m, as the tree has been pruned probably in its youth, an early victim of the ideas of Japanese gardening. The circumference of the trunk however is more than 22 m and the diameter of the ends of the branches extends to about 300 m. The branches extend partly far like a fan and are turned down so that one can in some spots only pass under them in a crouching posture, partly they are wound in snake-like coils supported by formal wooden scaffolding and stone bases. Below the branches of the impressive giant and dignified tree is hidden a complete Shinto temple. Where there are holes in the trunk they have been carefully glued closed. Also at the top there is a small roof to protect the tree against the rain as it is said to be very sensitive to it. Still despite all this care, the tree seems to be a bit ill surmised by its look and this year too, caterpillars have inflicted quite some damage on the old man.

Hiroshige - The evening rain at Karasaki (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Hiroshige – The evening rain at Karasaki (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Near the giant pine we witnessed the local fishing: In the lake are namely installed labyrinth-like paths made out of bamboo latices in conjunction with fish traps so that the entering fish find themselves finally confined to a relatively small space of a few meters in diameter out of which there is no escape. In front of our eyes such a space was emptied which resulted in a catch of multiple hundred kilograms of fish, among them especially carp of respectable sizes. Apparently the fishing is quite profitable here as the lake like all Japanese inland waters is very rich in fish. The steamboats driven without taking the slightest regard over the bamboo lattices extending out of the water so that one thinks that they would be crushed and torn. Far from it  — the elastic material bends below the fore and body of the ships and rises again unharmed behind the aft of the steamer.

Back in Otsu I climbed the numerous steps of a stone stairs to the heights covered with conifers and crowned by a Buddha sanctuary called Mii-dera, which is said to have been built already in the 7th century but has been adapted numerous times. From here one has a gorgeous panoramic view on the lake and the landscape surrounding it. Less charming were the sight of the public buildings constructed in European style that self-confidently if not pretentiously stand out in their brazen white painted exteriors from the surrounding areas.

With great appreciation one has to mention a masterwork of modern technology, namely the canal that connects by the Kamo-gawa canal, Kamo-gawa and Jodo-gawa to Lake Biwa and the Japanese inland sea. The highly remarkable installation built from 1885 to 1890 consists of a 11 km long shipping canal that enters into Kamo-gawa to the West of Kyoto and a  8 km long secondary canal that serves irrigation purposes and supplies water power for the various industrial establishments.

The difficulties of this structure were to route the canal through the hard rock of the ridge between the lake and Kamo-gawa and then cover the level difference of 44 m. The former obstacle was removed by building three tunnels, the latter by introducing a system of skewed plains on which the vehicles are moved up and down with strong steel cables powered by the hydraulic energy of the secondary canal. The design of this installation was created by Tanabe Sakuro, a student of Tokyo’s school of engineering who has executed the plans and drafts — by the way — with his left hand. While I enjoyed the sight and had myself informed about the canal, a gorgeous daylight firework was ignited so that around us colorful balloons, ribbons and bands  were flying through the air.

Above a newly built clean barracks occupied by an infantry regiment, an officers‘ casino has been situated on a height. Its location and surrounding makes this the probably most advantageous casino that I have known. It is built out of wood and equipped in the local manner. On the walls hang photographs showing war scenes from the Satsuma uprising as well as dedication tablets with memorial inscriptions and signatures of princely personalities, generals and other dignitaries. I had some of the inscriptions translated to me, some of which apparently are connected to certain events and relations or can not truly be understood by a third party, while others have a roguish air such as for instance the words of Prince Arisugawa: „We will entertain the peasant girls.“ A dinner we ate here tasted very well thanks to the agreeable coolness supplied by mighty blocks of ice and the charming landscape.

The departure from Otsu took place at half past 2 o’clock. At Maibara the train turned East towards Gifu. A place that will be commemorated forever in Japan’s history as today one of its railway stations is Sekigahara, where Ieyasu in 1600 at the head of 75.000 men won a decisive victory over the 130.000 men army of the league against him and thus brought the shogunate into the Tokugawa family. After a three hour journey we arrived in Gifu, not without me enjoying a little rest, as I was overwhelmed by the heat on the journey and tired,  to which purpose I had dressed as a Japanese wearing only my Kimono which caused much hilarity to the cabin attendants.

At the station I was greeted by captain Yamaguchi upon the order of the Emperor. He was the director of the Imperial hunting office called Shurio Kyoku and a chamberlain, both clad in neat green uniforms. Then followed the customary festive entrance into the city. As the people had formed huge crowds, the policemen formed an advance in djinn rickshaws to create space for us. The curious harmless bystanders were hit and run down in a rather rough manner without however any swear words by the victims whose calm found my admiration. The Japanese remain polite in all situations. Notable were the great number of attractive faces that the female part of the population contributed to the embellishment of the entrance.

Gifu, the capital of the prefecture of the same name and the province of Mino, has been completely rebuilt as an earthquake in 1891 and the resulting fire had fully destroyed it. It therefore makes a new, very clean and tidy impression.

A hill in the East of the city the great Nobunaga had in his time selected as a suitable spot for a fortified castle. The province of Mino is known for its fertility and the industry of its people that reveals itself in the production of silk, silk weaving, crepe, pottery and the paper industry.  Mino paper is especially popular for windows. Lampions, sun and rain umbrellas as well as paper napkins are desired articles. In a club house all the mentioned goods were offered for sale and also various honor presents for me by the city  were put on display.

The purpose of our visit to Gifu was to see fishing by the trained cormorants. Thus we went soon in djinn rickshaws to the fishing location about one hour of journey outside the city near Nagara-gawa. The journey followed the main road of Gifu, crossed a pretty bridge over the Nagara and continued on the right shore upstream past charming small houses surrounded by tiny gardens as well as bamboo bushes. The lampions for the evening activity were already visible and increased the expectations of a splendid illumination. At the place where we were asked to embark a covered and richly decorated and illuminated boat was already waiting. In it an excellent dinner was served when we had reached the middle of the river as the fishing would only start at dusk. The Japanese court cookinng merits special appreciation as they did everything but let us die from hunger. All the time there was something readily prepared for us, a constant  „Tischlein deck‘ dich“ (Grimm’s fairy tale „The wishing table“).

Both river shores were densely packed with people who had come to watch the spectacle and numerous boats filled with Gifu’s dignitaries and multiple reporters some of which were always accompanying us were dancing on the waves of the river. It is here 30 to 40 m wide, with a strong current, and forms rapids in the upper part where granite blocks constrain its path similar to those at Katsura-gawa. It reveals its character as a mountain river especially by the extended inundated areas that points to devastating activities of the river in spring.

When it had turned completely dark our vehicle was pushed a few hundred meters upstream until at a rocket signal 12 boats of 6 m length each emerged out of the turn of the river. A mighty chip of pinewood fire was burning in a iron basket at the fore of each ship in order to attract fish. There too stood a fisherman who held eight cormorants on strings ready while on both sides a fisherman each held two cormorants on two strings and a fourth man steered the boat, I was told that the cormorant is captured young and only tamed so far that he is tame to the hand that is eat out of the hand and allows to be touched. As soon as this achieved, it is used to catch fish and namely in the manner that a sling around its neck prevents its flight when it is sent into the water to catch fish and store them in its craw. The bird does this eagerly out of his instinct. To prevent the fish from going from the craw to the stomach the string is tightly wound around the neck. If the cormorant has caught a number of fish and stored in its craw, the bird is lifted back on board and deprived of its catch by the owner applying pressure to its neck.

Thus it happened here too. When the shine of the flames had attracted a sufficient number of fishes, the fleet started moving. At the same time the strings holding the cormorant were eased and the prey-seeking birds started diving without interruption and incited by our beats on the boat’s walls or our shouts in their murderous hunt.

A night time view of a strange charm developed in front of us. The boats drifting towards us, the up and down diving cormorants in front of the boats of which soon one or another was lifted into the boat in order to get its catch and release it back into the water. The exciting shouts  and noises of the fishermen and the crackle of the fire illuminating the darkness of the night over a wide area. The numerous vehicles mingling on the river and the crowds pushing on the shore in the red shine of the flames.

When the boats arrived near us, taking our vehicle into the middle and drifting further downstream we could closely observe the cormorants at their work. The fires illuminated the water to the ground of the river bed. Terrified schools of fish hurried around always pursued by the cormorants. There was especially vivid action under water if two cormorants started to chase the same fish so that a true competition began until one of the birds emerged victorious. We too started to get excited and took sides in the fishing so that we encouraged the cormorants by shouting what actually was not necessary at all as the brave animals caught in the hunting fever rushed back head first into the water having barely been lifted on board. Captain Yamaguchi was very happy about our interest which was not lessened when I standing up and due to the pitch of the boat poured a cup of black coffee into the lap of this brave man.

Recognition is due to the skill of the fishermen in performing their job in steering their boats in the strong current and how they manage the cormorants so that they can dive in all directions without messing up the long strings. With a one hour time period the 144 cormorants had caught 3000 fishes some of which were so large that the diving birds were unable to get them without a struggle. Under our own eyes one cormorant had no fewer than 16 fishes in his craw — a number that stands out of all proportion to the size of the bird.

The caught fish were all salmonidae that are all treasured and a favorite dish of the Mikado on whose table they apparently were never missing. At the dinner in the boat I had the opportunity to taste fishes of this species. We found them tasty but not as exquisite as our trout. The fishing grounds where we had fished is owned by the Emperor while other places are owned by the city or private persons. For the nearly fantastic wealth of this river and probably other waters in fish speaks the circumstance that this fishing method we witnessed today is used during five months every night with the exception of clear moon nights and the average daily catch is 5000 to 10.000 pieces of fish that are immediately put on ice and then sent into all parts of the country. Despite this robbery — the cormorant is one of the most ruthless predators that catches everything that comes near it without distinction — the fish stock always replenishes itself again. This can only be due to the very favorable circumstances for the fish fauna in Japan as there are neither close seasons nor other measures to improve the fishing. One clear explanation is that the pollution of the fishing waters by industrial establishments has not yet happened or not in the same amount as at home.

Both river shores were packed with humans near the bridge. The people even ran into the water to be able to see us, the water reaching up to their chests. The crowd there was buzzing and humming like a bee hive, soon there and soon here, clear laughter was heard and vivid shouts of approval reached our ears — all these sounds and noises combined with the gushing and roaring of the river to form a strange harmony.

The city of lampions seemed to want to surpass its fame. They said good-bye with an illumination that surpassed all expectations. Alongside the river shore as well as on the bridge thousands of red lampions had been lighted. Above the roads audacious arches were formed from which hung garlands of lampions gleaming in light red. The bizarre forms of the temple roofs as well as the fronts of the houses fiery lines made out of white lampions were formed. In the streets everywhere there were illuminated banners. Red and white glittering and gleaming out of all directions made the quarter up to the station appear to be bathed in light forming a stark contrast to the dark night sky.

Led by the mayor and followed by a huge crowd, the long caravan of djinn rickshaw moved to the station where the mayor of the city thanked me for visiting Gifu. After I had replied with a few words, the train took us on the Tokaido railway in a South-eastern direction to Nagoya. Here I was greeted by division general Katsura in fluent German that he had learned during his stay of many years in Vienna which he holds most dear in his memory.

During the entrance into the city a firework was ignited, this time a night time one that has to be counted among the most beautiful that I have seen. In spite of the advanced hour the inhabitants of Nagoya had assembled in huge crowds in front of the hotel where we would stay the night and applauded vividly when I accidentally appeared on the veranda as if I were a famous opera diva. I then bowed to thank them.

Links

  • Location: Nagoya, Japan
  • ANNO – on 14.08.1893 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 „Excelsior“.

Kyoto, 12 August 1893

Through the still empty streets the path went in a Western direction out of the city to reach the Katsura falls or, more precisely, the rapids of the Katsura river which we intended to tackle with boats.

Some minutes outside the city we made a stop at Ginkakuji, a country house built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa in 1479, after he had stepped down from the office of shogun. There is now a garden in which the Mikado also tends to walk when he is visiting Kyoto. This garden is strictly following the rules of Japanese gardening so that one meets here too dwarfish trees, cut bushes, grotesque rock groups, winding paths, small ponds and streams criss-crossing the garden.

Whereas elsewhere everything is done to support the free natural development and large trees with wide-ranging branches are desired, Japanese gardening seeks quality in smallness and is intent to contain nature in the smallest space possible, to restrict growth and force it into strange forms. Thus I have seen spruces and pines that were, though I was assured that the trees were fifty and even eighty years old, only half a meter high. It can not be denied that Japanese gardening expresses their great love for nature but it seems to me as if this love fails to understand the size of nature and that the son of Japan would not want to rise up to it but only wants to reduce it to his own size. In order to bring nature closer to the humans, they aim to create everything in a cute, small, dwarfish way and impose the mark of the garden artist’s mood. Everything we see in Japanese gardens is „cute“ — hardly another word fits to well to its qualities. A strangely formed heap of white sand in the garden of the country house, once the location for the aesthetic swoons and feasts of Yoshimasa, is called „silver sand platform“; the turning small water wheel in the site is called „source in which the moon takes a bath“, a stone in a small pond is the „rock of observation“ etc.

In fifty djinn rickshaws each drawn by three runners we drove across a plain covered at first by villages where the just harvested tea leaves had been laid out to dry on cloths. Numerous transport vehicles drawn by beautiful black bulls or with stallion ponies advanced towards us, whirling up dust which inconvenienced us not to a small degree. Alongside the road there are plenty of small tea houses that offer food to the tired wanderer and also now and then a refreshing drink of water to the runners whose endurance in this heat and dust is doubly astonishing. Our path, a very well maintained mountain road, led us to the heights in the Northwest of Kyoto through a gorge-like valley and up in serpentine roads. Here we enjoyed the charms of splendid vegetation as on both sides of the romantic path rose Japanese cedars, thujas, pines, bamboo  and all kinds of trees covering the steep ledges. Finally after having passed through a very long tunnel  we reached the peak and then descended into the valley of Hiroma-ji in which the Katsura-gawa, that is here called Hosu-gawa, and arrived an hour later on a bumpy road Yumamoto and thus the rapids of the Katsura river.

Three boats awaited us there, really strange vehicles, 6 m long and 2 m wide made out of thin boards only held together by wooden studs. It did not give an appearance of being very resistant and already while boarding the boards were buckling at each step at an alarming level. The crew consisted of four strong guys, one of which sat at the rudder while two rowed and the fourth with a long bamboo pole was tasked to keep the vehicle away from rocks at the shore and in the river bed.

As soon as we were assigned to the boats, the awesome journey started and after just a few moments we had already reached the first rapid which we crossed swift as an arrow. Depending on the slop, the boats glide calmly or rushed swiftly down the valley through the spray of the turbulent water at a dizzying speed. The course could not be in a straight direction as suddenly when the boats are at high speed running straight, a granite block stands in their way and one already thinks that the slim vehicle would crash but one wiggle of the rudder, a slight touch with the bamboo pole and the vehicle shoots past the dangerous spot a hand’s width away. Often the vehicle enters into thunderous waves and whirls and pitches mightily, the bottom boards move up and down as if under the influence of an earthquake. At times one feels how the vehicle glides over stones and rocks — but the elastic material of the boat resists in the same manner both the water and the rocks.

The trip which in a few places makes one think of being in one of our wild streams at home is exciting to the highest degree but undeniably also dangerous so that it is only due to the skill and the force of the boatmen that accidents rarely happen.

To increase the charms that we could admire at higher or lower speed or just get a glimpse of it when the boat flies past. Here the green waves of the river sparkle calmly downstream, there they rush whooshing, roaring, whizzing and thundering above and against the high rising blocking rocks, Now the valley gets wider, lovelier, then it closes again and we fly through the romantic narrow passages. At each turn of the river, a new image develops in our sights, soon a steep green ledge, soon woods covering the slopes, soon ragged rocks. Now and then a side valley opens in which a hidden mill peeks out. Now and then a curious tea house looks at us out of the light green space.

One and a half hours whiled away in a most agreeable manner until the valley widened and the Katsura river that is called Oi-gawa there runs in a very calm current and soon our fleet landed at Arashiyama. Here the inhabitants of Kyoto flock to preferentially in the spring when the cherry trees are in full bloom and enjoy the charms of the scenery of this lovely place on Earth surrounded by green hills and served by a couple of tea houses. Utile cum dulci! We too went there and did the same as the brave court cooks had produced a tasteful meal in one of these tea houses.

In a court carriage that followed the djinn rickshaws at their speed, I returned from the successful excursion to Kyoto and used the afternoon to go shopping and plunder the stores.

In the evening artists put on a show in the palace by performing a wild daring dance with fantastic masks and strange costumes as if they had been stung by a tarantula until they were out of breath and took their leave. I too quickly retired then and went to my quarter.

Links

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 12.08.1893 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“.

Nara, 11 August 1893

Today we started with a visit to the Imperial treasury which strangely is not located in Tokyo but here instead. The Mikado is said to usually keep the key to it in his own hands. What one might usually consider a treasure room, namely a fire and theft resistant room in which valuables, especially jewels and gems, are kept, nothing like this can be found here. We just see a wooden barn-like building standing on poles, that totally reminds me of the „hay barns“ in the wet meadows of Pinzgau and Pongau. Within this building whose purpose is more characteristic of a museum are objects of sometimes important historic and artistic value in closets. Here there are masks, brocade and silk dresses that were once used for ceremonies, furthermore swords, arrows, bows and gorgeous saddlery, then objects of daily life such as mirrors, spoons, full cutlery sets, finally jewels made out of nephrite, bringer of luck, and besides many other things, incredibly valuable Kakemonos.

Not far from the treasury is the greatest peculiarity of Nara, that is the colossal statue of Amitabha (Nara-no-daibutsu, that is the great Buddha) in the Todai-ji, zu sehen. This temple was built by Shomu-Tenno, the 46th Mikado, and completed in 750 but has a newer different form now after repeated destructions by fire. The exterior relations of the building we could not fully see as they were just making repairs for which they had erected scaffolds at the facade. The temple hall into which the visitor enters without having to remove the shoes contains the colossal statue of Buddha that surprises by its giant dimensions, an imposing proof of the Japanese skill in terms of metallurgy. The statue is the largest Buddha representation in the country at a height of 162 m and shows Buddha sitting on an open lotus flower that has been produced out of 500 t of copper-rich bronze at a width of about 2 cm. On the leaves one can still recognize the signs of engraved figures of gods. Behind the head that seems to be darker colored than the rest rises a glittering gilded wooden halo whose rays branch out far in all directions and on which six statues of Buddhist saints are balancing. To the right of the Buddha statue is one of a holy being, Kokuso Bosatsu, to the left one of the almighty Kwan-on, both 5,5 m high and nevertheless tiny in comparison to the huge Buddha. The latter had been strongly gilded too at the beginning but this decoration has been lost during its turbulent existence.

Lke the temple the Daibutsu itself owes its existence to Shomu-Tenno, who had the creation of the statue under his personal direction only undertaken after an oracle of the consulted sun goddess Amaterasu and a dream about this had calmed him that the other gods would not be jealous about the planned honoring of Buddha. In the year 749 the work was completed which is more remarkable for its height than its artistic value. About  a bit more than 100 years later the poor Buddha lost its head but received a new one a short time afterwards. A fire in 1180 melted the head and it was replaced again 15 years later only to perish once more in the fire of 1567. A private person then helped Buddha to replace his head again so that the god has since been in complete command of his more than 1100 year old body. The more than 300 year old head looks out into the world with a happy smile without having lost his good mood that he had been exposed to the full rigors of the weather for more than one and a half centuries after the last fire.

A thick dust layer covered the image which we pointed out to the senior priest who replied that this was due to the pilgrims that carried in the dust but at least declared that the god would be better kept clean in the future. This would improve all of the temple space in my view as the room was really completely deprived of its religious character.

In the temple there is a formal exhibition of the interesting objects that are presented in closets and constitute, in part, the treasure. All kinds of wooden images of the gods, valuable reliquaries, music instruments, weapons and armor, masks, ancient manuscripts and maps in scrolls etc. can be seen in a colorful variety. Merchants from Nara had assembled here in the safe presumption that I would be willing to buy various objects, so that under Buddha’s eyes a vivid trade soon developed that was continued on the exterior of the temple at the nearby shops that contained many artistic objects.

We did not miss to pay a visit to the huge bell that had been cast in 732 out of 36 t of metal that hangs in a massive tower and is a part of Todai-ji. The mammoth that is similar to the one in the Chion temple in Kyoto was beat in our honor with the bobbin and is distinguished by the purity of the deep clanging sound.

In the holy grove that has made Nara in part famous rises in the shadow of ancient Japanese cedars and cypresses one temple after the next with extended associated buildings. A pleasing silence reigns in the area of the dignified tree giants but that is not due to the earnestness of the matching style in the grove but instead it exudes an air of friendliness and hilarity.  As everywhere the light colors of the temples pierces the leaves. The temples are the opposite of dark houses of prayer. The rare understanding of the building artists for the correct location of their works is proved by the charming views upon the lovely landscape.

Shedding many drops of sweat we climbed countless steps of a long stone star to a temple situated at the highest level called Ni-gwatsu-do or temple of the second month that seems to stick to the hill on which it had been built as it seems to rise out on its poles from the hill. Built already in 751, the current building dates only back 200 years and contains an image of wonder of the goddess Kwan-on, which is said to have exuded warmth like a living body when it was found. A confusing number of metal votive lanterns hang in front of the temple and produces a strange attraction to the building.

Now we wandered in the avenues of the varied small votive temples that border the path under high dark trees and arrived at the Shinto sanctuary in red and white color called San-gwatsu-do or temple of the third month whose priests always clad in white greeted us. Currently quite desolate, this temple is remarkable by a row of original small side temples dedicated to Inari. As a quality that deserves to be mentioned is that in this holy grove priests of various cults act peacefully side by side sot that they imitate the very good understanding in which numerous gods live together in harmony.

We quickly used a break during the visit of the temple to buy sword guards whose fabrications once was very famous and had produced many master pieces of invaluable quality.

Thousands of votive pillars encase the path that the djinn rickshaws took to the other temples. The pillars resemble one another almost completely Due to their age they are mostly covered in moss and hold the name of the donor on the base and contain space in the upper part under a stone roof for the placement of a lantern. Often these marks of faith are grouped in four to five rows one behind the other and only rarely alternate with a beautiful bronze figure one of which especially caught my eye as it showed a water-spewing deer at natural size and in a very elegantly formed lines.

At a Shinto sanctuary called Kasuga-no-mija we stopped. This building rises in noble proportions and produces a very vivid effect by its gleaming red bizarrely formed metal votive lanterns whose numbers nobody has yet counted and that are in a captivating contrast to the calm green of the majestic Japanese cedars. Impressive is the rich temple treasure assembled over centuries as this Kami hall reaches back to the distant past as it is said to have been built already in 767. It is dedicated to the ancestor of the house of Fujiwara, the Shinto god Ama-no-kojane and his wife as well as two mythical creatures.

At the end of an avenue bordered by more than 3000 stone and bronze lanterns lies the Waka temple dedicated to the son of Ama-no-kojane in which an ancient dance called Kagura was performed in our honor by three priests with flutes and drums, supported by a matron who played a Koto while lying down, who produced the orchestral music. The youthful female dancers who had been especially educated for these ritual performances wore wide red pants, white overcoats and gaze-like coats. The black hair hung freely down the back , only loosely held together by a golden thread, a crest of artificial flowers decorated the front, the face was defaced by thick paint in white, the lips were glittering in a flashy red. The dance consisted of  rhythmic steps forwards and backwards. The girls accompanied this graceful swaying soon with tree twigs soon by small bells or fans but still made an impression of mechanically moving figures.

During the dinner in the clubhouse a highly skilled juggler put on a performance which ended with some clown sketches enacted in conjunction with some companions in which the Japanese version of the „dumb Auguste“ was not missing.

In the afternoon we started our return trip to Kyoto. In Osaka the nearly one hour journey from the station at Minatoku to that of Umeda offered plenty of opportunities for the huge crowds that were intent of seeing the Western strangers.

At 8 o’clock in the evening we returned to Kyoto and found our long path to our journey blocked by a densely packed crowd and festively illuminated by lampions as during our first arrival in the city.

Links

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 11.08.1893 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 Hugenotten“.

Kyoto to Osaka, 10 August 1893

Today’s program included an excursion first to Osaka and then to Nara. The train therefore took us towards that city on the same line that we had already used on our journey to Kyoto although at night. We rushed through a lovely green landscape where numerous sweep wells and treadwheels to irrigate the area rise as a strange accessories. Small bamboo forests interrupt in an agreeable way the monotony of the rice paddies extending very far. Repeatedly the train dashes over the nearly dry trickles of streams and small rivers an finally the bed of Kanzaki-gawa and also Jodo-gawa.

From the far distance Osaka, a city of more than 473.000 inhabitants, announces its character as an industry and trade center by the in no way picturesque view of numerous factories with smocking stacks. The first building that we passed was a brewery operated by steam that satisfied both the thirst and the industrial pride of the inhabitants of Osaka.

My strong request to keep my excursion Incognito as much as possible was granted but it only consisted that the police no longer saluted in front of me while everything else stayed the same. Thus we found here again a festive reception at the station, the presentation of high dignitaries, a triumphal entrance into the city through a cordon of curious spectators. I had declined with thanks to see the originally planned revue of the toal garrison troops of Osaka, quite to the disappointment of the commanding general, an old lieutenant general to whom I confirmed a visit to the castle and the arsenal instead.

Four court carriages brought us quickly first to the castle that is on the left bank of the Jodo-gawa in the East of the city that is not rarely called the Venice of Japan. This comparison is only valid in terms that in the Southern part of Osaka re numerous canals of filthy water that branch off from Jodo-gawa.

At the entrance to the fort the lieutenant general received me at the head of the officer corps and accompanied me into a service building where he presented me with photographs and sketches of the fortress after a long speech and offered refreshments. The castle resembles in its construction and fortification those of Kumamoto and represents a huge installation, although of smaller dimension, of an enclosing wall made out of colossal granite blocks that was 5 to 7 m wide and up to 12 m long and had a deep water-filled double moat. How they managed to move and pile up the giant granite blocks with the technical means available during the time of construction of the castle seems nearly unthinkable. It is remarkable that the walls of the escarpe and that of the contre-escarpe are not straight or at an angle but laid out in a curve. On top of the walls rise the peculiar towers of Japanese fortifications with their curved pagoda roofs. But their number is very small as most had in time become victim of the fires. Overall, the castle has turned into a ruin and also the palace within the second enclosed wall, apparently once the most splendid building of Japan, was consumed by flames in 1868. The ruins still look impressive today and tell the proud history of this fortress in a silent but haunting language. The castle was the key to the capital of Kyoto during those turbulent times and played an important role at decisive events in the history of Japan and is associated with the most illustrious names of the country.

Where today rise the debris of Osaka castle once there stood a very famous Buddhist monastery of the Shin sect that was destroyed in 1571 by the order of Nobunaga who had become one of the most powerful feudal lords thanks to the fortune of war and his bravery so that he was tasked by the Mikado to pacify the land and could dare to chase away shoguns or appoint them. Church history glorifies him as he protected Christians while he persecuted the depraved Buddhist priests who opposed his audacious plans. The order to destroy the monastery of Osaka is reinforced by Nobunaga’s words: „These bonzes never obeyed my orders but always supported the bad guys an resisted the Imperial army. If I do not remove it now, this misery will go on forever. Furthermore I have heard that these priests have ignored their own rules: They eat fish and bad herbs, have concubines and roll up the holy scripts instead of reading them and pray. How could they be the guardians against the bad and the keepers of justice?“ Then fire and sword performed their duties. A short time later the Taiko-sama had Osaka castle built in the spot of the destroyed monastery and had it reinforced a few years later. For that purpose apparently 17.000 houses were leveled.

In connection with the persecution of the Christians, Osaka became a place of refuge for Christianity and other malcontents and was besieged and conquered already in 1615 by Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, and his son Hidetada. During the downfall of the feudal system in Japan and the restitution of the rule of the Mikado it was left to Osaka to witness the decline of the Tokugawa shogunate as it had seen the foundation and rise of its reign. Here the last shogun from this family took up his position in 1868 but could not hold neither castle nor city and had to flee on an American ship. In the flames that consumed the castle the shogunate and with it the old feudal system perished too.

At the place of great historical memories there is now a peaceful work being built, a large reservoir that is to supply the city with fresh water. The view from the heights of the castle upon the city and its surrounding is gorgeous. In the far distance one could see the large steamers move across the inland sea.

Even though the visit to the arsenal was a bit arduous due to the oppressive heat, I still did not regret it as it offered me an opportunity to verify personally the high state of the Japanese arms industry. The short time during which Japan has managed to gain the knowledge about all the respective European installation is almost a miracle. In the arsenal they were just working on a number of guns, namely 7 cm mountain artillery to up to 40 cm fortress guns intended for newly constructed forts. As the government is diligently prepared to protect every suitable point at the coast, each passage, every ledge and every peninsula with forts and then arm them soundly. The arsenal is equipped with machines of the most modern construction so that gun barrels that arrive in a raw state from the foundry are within a short time completed and adjusted. In multiple extensive halls the gun production is active in a grand style. Naturally the associated secondary installations are not missing, thus a shop to repair rifles, a carpenter’s, a wainwright’s and a saddler’s shop for the production of carriages, ammunition wagons and the tacks for the artillery. In the saddler’s shop I examined all the types of leather used as well as the production of saddles as well as saddle blankets. Here too I found the latter to be much too thin and the saddles not built as robust as required for the permanent wear and tear they are exposed to at home. The arsenal currently already produces goods for export. Thus just a few mountain artillery pieces were produced for the Portuguese government.

After the visit to the arsenal followed an opulent breakfast in the officer’s club which was also attended by the generals and the governor. The building of the club is in its exterior of European but in the interior of  Japanese character which is enhanced by a small but interesting collection of art-industrial objects. Large ice blocks in bronze vases apparently from the heights of Fujiyama  provided agreeable coolness. At the breakfast the governor produced vivid hilarity. He assured me that his doctor had forbidden him to drink sake given his unsound state of health, but saw no objection to the consumption of cognac and consumed it with vehemence.

Finally it was time to go and take the railway from Minato-cho Station to Nara. The railway line crosses a plain cultivated everywhere with rice paddies and rich in streams, later hilly terrain. First in a South-eastern direction across the province of Kawachi, which like the province of Yamato whose capital Nara is are also part of the five core provinces. Then it continues in front of Uji Station over the mountain range which forms the border between the mentioned provinces and reaches in a North-eastern arc the city of Nara. Before we arrived there we made a stop at Horyuji to visit a temple at a distance of half an hour from there.

Moving in djinn rickshaws we soon saw the temple or more precisely the houses of a conglomerate of temple buildings that looked like a small city and were united in picturesque groups in a lovely grove and connected by paths and stairs that are decorated with small chapels and bronze vessels.

During our tour we walked past gates everywhere  that are protected by threatening grotesque guards in black and in red colors. The temple had been founded by Shotoku-daishi and completed in 607. It is thus the oldest surviving Buddhist temple whose rich art treasures are supported not only by the government but also a dedicated society to support the maintenance and conservation of the temple with notable contributions.

The hall of dreams, Yume-dono, an octogonal building, is dedicated to the goddess Kwan-on whose 600 year old image hangs beside an image of the 1100 year old face of Shotoku-daishi. In the right wing of a large building behind it that is ornamented by wall paintings that in part date from 1069 a reliquary is kept of the iris of the pupil od Buddha’s left eye whose view believers can look at always at noon. In the left wing there is an image of the goddess Kwan-on who is asked for assistance against evil dreams. The main temple, surrounded by a rectangular wall, contains a number of paintings, of Buddha and other gods of which three had been installed in 1231 as a replacement of three stolen statues.

A bronze statue of Yakushi Nyorai, that is the healing Buddha, and a wooden figure of Fugen, the especially divine patron of those who devote themselves to ecstatic views, are said to have been brought by a priest called Zemui from India. Two other images, among them one of the goddess Kwan-on is said to be of Indian origin. As treasures of the highest value appear the wall paintings that show all kinds of Buddhist reproaches and are assigned to the artist Tori Busshi as well as a Korean priest and have a great importance in Japanese art history. The old age of these works is beyond doubt and the style as well as the perfect execution that was not matched by any known Japanese artist point to a Korean origin.

In the temple building dedicated to Yakushi Njorai, a view of the strangest and surprising kind is presented as the walls are covered by thousands and thousands of swords, knives, arrows, bows, in one word with weapons of all kind that men have offered while mirrors and hair has been sacrificed by women as devotionals. But also other objects of all kinds have been given to the god out of gratitude for the mercy shown. Not missing are drills as a symbol for a restored sense of hearing. What would our ear specialists think about these instruments and the unmade deafness?

Colossal god statues distinguish the temple of Kami-no-do; in this temple we view the images of Shakyamuni (Buddha), of Monchu, a personification of supernatural knowledge, of Fugen and Shi-Tenno, one of the four kings in heaven who defend the world against demons. Furthermore a group is displayed that symbolises the death of Buddha and images of the eight scenes from Buddha’s life, beginning with his birth in heaven and ending with his entrance into nirvana. One of the colossal statues shows a notable close similarity to our common representation of the Archangel Michael who defends himself with a lance against the evil enemy.

A dark long winded hall that at first gave the impression of a prop storage room of a theater contains the temple treasure that is said, in my opinion justly, to be of exceptionally high value. Here there are splendid truly invaluable tapestry-like embroideries, figures and all kinds of other objects made out of wood and bronze, masks, swords, giant drums, gongs etc. In a row of closets that are locked off there must be further valuables that are kept out of sight from  profane viewers. At the end of the tour the bonzes offered us refreshments that we gladly accepted and then drove quickly to the station where the train took us to Nara.

This city built at the foot of a well wooded mountain range can claim the glory of being one of the oldest settlements in the country but is but a shadow of its former self. Once Nara had even been the center of the empire until the Emperor Kwammu moved his residence to Kyoto. After a half hour drive in rickshaws through the main avenue of Nara and a long avenue bordered by hundred year old Japanese cedars and cypresses we arrived at a club house in the middle of a temple grove called Kosugano-yashiroe which would serve as our residence.

The loveliness of the view of the scenery is enlivened in a graceful way by the numerous holy deer that are tamely mingling between the rickshaws and pedestrians and graze without fear. These deer (Cervus schika), that are said to be cared for a thousand years, are stronger and stockier than the spotted deer but otherwise quite similar. It seems to me that the number of deer with antlers but not more than eight points were outnumbering the other animals. The big game is under special protection so that earlier the death penalty was enforced for killing a piece. Feeding always takes place close to the temple with the consequence that the game is so tame that it accepts to be fed out of the hands of everybody.

Our quarter was a very charming residence. From my room on the first floor I had a view on the dark temple grove out of whose sea of leaves now here and then one could see the top of a pagoda or the roof of a temple and in the background the green hill slopes so that one imagines to be far from a urban community. The magic of the landscape and the absolute quietness of this piece on Earth is said to have pleased the Empress of Japan who enjoyed her visits to Nara and also stayed and held court in the comfortable club house in the same rooms that I was occupying as Nara lacks an Imperial palace.

As the advanced hour prevented a visit of Nara’s sights I wandered around in the temple grove to feed the deer so that I was soon surrounded by about 60 pieces. The tame animals pestered me formally, sniffed my pockets and would not relent until I had handed out some treats whereas one especially brash stag tried to advance his demands by the use of its antlers.

After the dinner in the club house there was arranged an original production of dancers, mimes and actors in a meadow in front of the veranda illuminated by mighty flickering  pinewood flames. The spectacle was opened by a warrior in a rich costume who performed an ancient Chinese dance, Gwan-so-raku, that means Joy of the Ancestors where the artists with a horrible face mask turned around a coiled snake in front of him, threatening it with weapons and finally strangling it. While it is already difficult in our ballets at home to add a choreographic plot that made some sort of sense, this was completely impossible here until it was explained that in the far West there lived barbarians who ate snakes and that the dance under the image of the dead snake was a symbolic illustration of the victory of the Emperor over his enemies and the joy about the victorious return of their master. More interest than the performance attracted the old brocade cloths in which the warrior was clad.

The first performed dance called Kaden was more like a clown art number than a choreographic work as two artists wearing hideous lion masks imitated the movements of two lions in which, by the way, they were quite skilled. This dance is said to have been composed more than 1000 years ago upon the order of the 54th Mikado, Ninmyo Tenno, by Fujiwara Sadotoshi.

The now following presentation accompanied by singing was based on a legend that was similar to the temptation of St. Anthony. The goddess Miwa transformed herself into a woman to seduce a god-fearing Buddhist priest called Gwanpin who is said to have lived 1100 years ago. Miwa creates delicate and difficult situations for him but after a long struggle the priest emerges victorious. At first the performance starts out very funny due to the strange plot and the art of presentation but then it becomes quite monotonous as the spurned pseudo goddess cries and wails without end and the steadfast servant of Buddha keeps swearing while squatting in one corner of the improvised stage.

At the end the actors played a farce with the idea that a magic cap that turned its wearer invisible. A boy who was beaten too much by his boss flees into a Buddhist temple in Kyoto and asks for help which is given in a very practical manner in regard to the circumstances by handing him the magic cap. The boss is now no longer able to find the boy and asks a bonze to track him down which naturally does not happen. To the joy of the boy, the farce ends with the boss and the bonze hitting each other.

Noh dances are the name of productions where monotonous music that is not conforming to our ours made by a harmonica, Sho, a mortar-like instrument beat with a hammer, Kokin, that replaces the bass and a bamboo clarinet, Fudsche, as well as a zither played laying down, Koto.

Links

  • Location: Nara, Japan
  • ANNO – on 10.08.1893 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 „Ein Tanzmärchen“.

Kyoto, 9 August 1893

Very close to our residence and in the same garden are historic buildings where generations of Mikados had lived and died hidden from the eyes of the people, until the new constitution ended this captivity. The complex of the palace buildings consists of a row of wide-ranging one story buildings that we had noticed already during our arrival. In contrast to the other Japanese buildings they make in fact a very austere and cold impression. The delicate small gardens that are missing hardly anywhere are here replaced by sandy dust-filled courtyards. We visited the hall called Seiro-den. The wing of the rooms of this buildings used to form the actual place where the Mikado stayed but then later only served to hold certain festivities. In the audience hall, the place of inthronization of the Mikado, I noticed a small seat of honor with a pavilion roof made out of white, red and black silk guarded by two yawning bronze figures in front while on the walls hung paintings in Chinese style.

The part of the palace called Tsune-goten contains the private rooms of the Mikado. In the numerous rooms of the palace where a visitor might nearly get lost we found now and then beautiful wall paintings that however were unable to reduce the first impression of the bleakness of the palace which the interior of the residence exudes. If I were Emperor of Japan, ruler over such an artistic people, I would have known to decorate my palace much more splendidly and more comfortably, namely if it would have been to spend my life in silent seclusion.

On the way to the Nijo, the former palace of the shoguns, we entered a silk weaving factory where goods for export were produced that however can only in part be called excellent products of the Japanese textile industry. The technical process is overall the same as that used at home in similar establishments. The silk weavers of Kyoto are concentrated in Nishi-jin, that is the Western camp in the North-western part of the city. The number engaged in this industry is very considerable given the importance that silk production plays for the production of goods in Japan and silk is Japan’s most valuable export article. As in Europe this industry has to overcome calamities of all kinds, not the least the diseases that afflict the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori). The latter circumstance had led to efforts in Japan to seek a replacement for the silkworm in  Antheraea yamamai that eats the leaves of the Japanese oak (Quercus serrata) and produces a light glittering cocoon that has been successfully used to produce damask and brocade-like crepe.

Nijo Castle has been built in 1601 by Ieyasu as his quarter during visits to Kyoto and since then has served as a residence for the shoguns of the house Tokugawa until it passed into Imperial possession in the year 1868. The fortress-like exterior and namely the Cyclopean walls with towers are not preparing the visitor to what he will see in the interior rooms, even though the rich haut-reliefs of the gates reveal more artistic taste and love of splendor than the Imperial palace.

A fairy tale magic is surrounding us as we walk through one gold ornamented hall after another. Splendidly executed wall paintings stand out from the gleaming background offering us insights into new art forms. If we had hitherto admired the delicacy and love of detail in Japanese paintings, we could not fail to notice a trait of brilliance in these paintings.  All other halls are surpassed by the splendor of the former audience hall of the shogun whose gold decoration is formally blinding the visitor.  But this splendor failed to ban the fear which can be concluded by the presence of a secret door intended to keep armored guards hidden in a side chamber of the audience hall who were able to assist a shogun in trouble at any moment.

Japan’s Rothschild, a very rich banker called Nitsui who owes his millions to the mines in the interior asked me to pay him a visit in his newly completed house. I gladly accepted this invitation and was greeted in in the hall of the newly built palace by its owner, a friendly looking small man who bowed many times and gave a longer speech. The visit showed that the building had been constructed with taste, out of finely planed wood, clay and paper and surrounded by a cute garden. The interior however showed a turn toward European tastes and comforts which could not be matched with the also present native furniture of the rooms. The heavy splendid fauteuils in flashy colorful cloths procured in Europe as well as the massive armoires and thick rugs stood in a stark contrast to the delicate Kakemonos and light mats, But exactly this contradiction seemed for the owner to create the charms of something original and thus to please him. Nitsui seems to love animals very much. This conclusion can be based on the wire frame aviary on the veranda oriented towards the garden with two prancing pairs of cranes one coming from Japan, the other from Korea, while in delicate and completely clean wooden cages nearly all bird species existing in Japan were kept, namely singing birds. Among the prisoners I noticed also a nutcracker whose feathers had the same coloring as its European brother. Mr. Nitsui had some refreshments served and then presented me an owl and a spoonbill as a gift that had unfortunately been quite badly stuffed.

Had I up to now only visited ancient temples, I now wanted to look at Higashi-honganji ebethat was just being built. The brother temple of Nigashi honganji had become a victim of the flames in 1864 during the murderous fight between many hundreds of people from Chōshū who had come with the intent of capturing the person of the Mikado despite the prohibition to stay in Kyoto and the troops assembled to protect the capital. The construction has already achieved great progress so that it was clear that a Buddha temple was being built which conformed strictly to the provisions of the Shin sect in both planning the site and its style and at the same time by the noble proportions of its dimensions and the splendid decoration will become a landmark of the city.

My astonishment was especially triggered by the colossal tree trunks that had been supplied as offerings from all parts of Japan for the construction. It was as if one was wandering in the building site through a forest of pillars made out of the Keaki wood, a tree that is part of the family of elm trees (Zelkowa keaki) whose wood is exceptional in regard to its robustness, elasticity and durability so that is a favored building material for ships and houses and the construction of various small luxury goods. For the construction of the Higashi-honganji Keaki wood is used for all visible parts while the other ones use spruce, namely for the roof woodwork of the building. The spruce used are really giant ancient trunks which however are necessary to cover the enormous spans as the temple is 74 m long and 52 m wide.

The more than an arm thick ropes, with which the mighty trunks are hoisted up, lay in front of us in two man-high coils. They are said to be made out of women’s hair. This use of a material otherwise unused or to different effect is said to have been derived that at the start of constructing the temple multiple ropes had cracked while hoisting the heavy trunks which caused accidents repeatedly and made one priest prophecy that only a rope produced out of women’s hair would be capable of bearing the load and thus avoid further accidents. Based on this prophecy many women and girls decided in great numbers to sacrifice their hairs to the temple construction and contribute to the creation of the necessary ropes. And so it was — the sex that is actually the stronger one proved its worth also in this case. As their hair braided into a pitch-black ropes has been doing stellar services at the temple construction proving the confidence of the prophetising priest right. Even though I elsewhere do not tend to mutilate works of art to take a piece of it home nor take strange things in an illegal manner to add some curiosity to my collection, I nevertheless departed from my principles here as I had a small piece of this rope cut off in secret and merrily returned home with my haul.

Quickly we ate breakfast and then rushed out to once more go shopping whereas I especially wanted to buy silk and kimonos, the latter to present as a gift to friends at home. The shopping madness that had taken hold of us had become known in wider circles so that the people crowded in the streets in front of the shops and followed our activities with their eyes while uniformed policemen and detectives were busily rushing here and there to assure my security though I did not feel threatened at all. That such circumstances do not make shopping easier and namely cheaper is probably obvious.

Just before the late evening dinner a football game in my honor had been arranged by the gentlemen of Kyoto’s aristocracy which was played in an ancient Japanese costume. Here it was the goal of the players  to kick a football up and to a team mate within a delimited rather small space who would take the ball in the same manner and pass it on. I found reason to admire the eagerness and skill of the players and even more so given that some of the gentlemen had long been past the beautiful time of their first youth.  The players made an excellent and characteristic impression in their national dress. They looked much better attired in it that in the often badly cut tail and frock coats.

Links

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 09.08.1893 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 „Fidelio“.

Kyoto, 8 August 1893

From Kobe to Osaka the Tokaido railway line to Tokyo is following the coast and then turns towards the interior in a North-western direction to Kyoto where we arrived at 1 o’clock in the night after with a considerable delay caused by the festive receptions. Here I entered a court carriage and rushed to Gosho, the Imperial Palace, followed by a long line of djinn rickshaws with my entourage. After a long drive through the straight streets that are laid out in a grid pattern. Disregarding the late hour, a packed crowd was lining the streets under and with lampions in our home colors.

The Imperial palace is surrounded by a garden and a high covered wall and makes an ugly impression which is not improved by the dark walls made out of wood from Hinoki, the Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) and the steeply sloping roofs covered with the bark of that tree. The rooms of the house assigned to us are decorated in a simple but tasteful way in the original Japanese art. We found here too sliding doors and the lightly colored mats. On the walls are artistic images on a golden background. A veranda encloses the building and leads directly into the garden where countless guardians of the law are fending off all potential dangers.

In consideration of the late hour we had gone to sleep I believed that I could escape out of the clutches of my entourage by leaving the palace early in the morning and visit the sights of Kyoto in an inconspicuous way. But my assumptions proved to be wrong as I had hardly been strolling half an hour through the city when the gentlemen of the Japanese entourage turned up, quite worried whether I would be angry about their delay.

My first visit was to the Catholic church, a friendly house of worship in Gothic style that has been built by a Japanese architect. French priests exercises with as much enthusiasm as the nuns nearby whose beneficial works have already borne fruits.

Kyoto, numbering 298.500 inhabitants, rose out of the fertile plain of the province Yamashiro — on of the five main provinces of Japan (Go-kinai) that provided the foundation of the empire and in which all Imperial residences were situated — between the rivers Kamo and Katsura. With the larger part on the right bank and the smaller one on the slopes of the wooded heights of the Higashiyama on the left bank of Kamogawa, at some distance also surrounded by wooded mountains in the North and West. Kyoto is well known for its scenic landscape, its regularity of the site and not the least by the cleanliness of its not especially wide streets.

In this city the blooming art industry was held in high esteem since ancient times, namely the silk, metal and ceramic industries. Honorable and very famous, Kyoto is the classic focus of the one thousand year old history of ancient Japan — the genie of the more recent history lies in Tokyo. In 794 the Mikado Kanmu, one of the most important princes of the country, changed his residence to the village of Uda by constructing a peace palace called Heian-kyo and thus set the foundations for the city of Kyoto whose name in Chinese language means „capital city“.

The year 1868 moved like so much else with an iron foot past Kyoto’s position — it was necessary to break with the great historical past and rooted traditions. The new ideas had to be given more favorable soil as a place of old memories. Thus the residence of the Mikado was moved to Tokyo and thus Kyoto’s hegemony was broken — the former city indicated the future, the latter the past of Japan. For a conservative Japanese, however, Kyoto is still, even though it has lost not only in political but also material relations in an unfavorable comparison with Tokyo, the center of history, of erudition and culture of Japan. And one other glory Kyoto has kept: It is the city of temples. In its surrounding area it is said that to be about 3000 temples. What is Rome for Catholics, Moscow for the Russians, Mecca for the Muslims, Kandy for the Buddhists, that is Kyoto for the Japanese even if a person might be a Buddhist or Shintoist.

Visiting all 3000 temples would be too much to ask so that we limited us to the most exceptional. We started with the main Buddhist temple of the Jodo sect called Chion-in, situated in the Eastern part of the city on a hill and looking similar to a fortress.

The Jodo sect whose priests strictly live celibate and abstain from eating meat proclaims that salvation is mainly due to observing pious customs and has been founded in 1173 by Honen Shonin and blossomed during the Tokugawa shogunate. An avenue bordered by cherry trees leads to the main entrance of the temple, a building two stories high that has been made out of heavy wood and has as original as elegant an architectural form. A steep stairs bordered by dark Japanese cedars leads to a great forecourt at whose end lies the main temple Hondo in a charming grove. In the forecourt stand multiple splendid bronze vessels out of which water is spilling, intended for the believers to clean their hands before entering the temple. For the same purpose apparently a number of obviously already used cloths are hanging there. The main building, a covered mighty hall of pillars is also built out of the universal material, wood, and thus has repeatedly become a victim of the flames. The last time in 1633, after which it had been rebuilt in its current form.

We had to take off our shoes and entered the room accessible to any visitor where multiple bonzes were murmuring prayers and beat on gongs. But their curiosity seemed to be greater than their piety as the priests looked at us and lost their rhythm of ringing bells. Sannomiya, who had been a temple priest in his younger days, called his former colleagues and ordered them to guide us through all rooms of the temple. The bonzes whose shaved heads were covered with strange net-like caps wore a kind of stole slung around the neck and were noticeable by the splendor of their dresses even though they should have been joined together out of small patches according to the strict doctrines in order to show that the priests once walked in rags. The idol servants not only perform the prescribed prayers and ceremonies but also engage in a roaring trade with amulets and write passe-partouts to heaven for the believers in exchange for a commensurate tip.

In the main temple itself, one of the largest of such buildings in Kyoto, rises a splendidly gilded shrine on a table-like alter contained within an area delimited by four pillars. The shrine contains the statue of the sect’s founder. It is usually only shown once a year during the commemoration ceremony about the founding of the doctrine. In my honor, they made an exception and I could take a look at the sanctuary for which a bonze opened the shrine by bowing down numerous times to his knees. The statue shows a small corpulent man with a smiling physiognomy who is comfortably ably resting on a pillow and in his external expression reminds more of a jovial dandy than a strict religious reformer. The altar that holds this sanctuary is notable for its splendid lacquer and bronze works that produce a rare artistic effect by their harmonious blend. The surrounding wooden pillars are richly gilded,  their capitals and the freezes and ceiling fields are decorated with artistic carvings, fantastic animals and all kinds of symbols.

In front of the facing pillars rise mighty bronze vases, carrying metal lotus flowers, that reach up to nearly half the temple. Numerous lamps, incense burners and bronze displays form a peculiar valuable decoration and show all kinds of thinkable variations in terms of their sizes as besides the lamps there are other metal objects multiple meters high as well as objects in the most minimal dimensions such as lamps that barely manage to hold a miniature flame. Whatever we look at is contained in the most noble forms and shows the noble sensitive taste of the artists that created these master works.

On the side of the main altars stands the altar of Buddha, a peculiarity that is connected with the fact that the temple had been dedicated to the sect’s founder. In multiple gilded shrines lay tablets on small pedestals to commemorate various persons for their pious contributions and dedications to the temple. These tablets of which there was a considerable number gave in their formation the impression of the model of a cemetery.

The main temple is followed by a number of buildings of all kinds and various purposes, thus a conference hall and a library that contains a collection of all Buddhist prescriptions and multiple Buddha altars that each carry a richly gilded statue that represent the god with a halo sitting under or on an opened lotus flower. The close environment of the altars show signs of the frequent visits of the believers as the gilding is often enough rubbed off in some places which can easily be explained that the pious pilgrims who desire the ease from bodily pain or the end of an infirmity from the divine power by brushing the affected body part against the respective part of the statue — a form of activity of religious conviction that leaves nothing to be desired in its drastic comic relief.

A further building next to the temple is the palace built by the shogun Iyemizu, who ruled from 1623 to 1651 and had been conspicuous by his activity. That palace contains a real labyrinth of rooms that in earlier times were intended in part for the Mikado in part for his Imperial prince acting in his capacity as high priest but now serves as a residence for the bonzes or are unoccupied. These rooms are exceptional by their paintings that cover the moving walls. We saw here old very famous works by important masters whose impressions of all kinds of animals and plants and activities of daily life have entered them into an eternal commemoration. Some of these rooms show admirable images of spruce, bamboo and peach trees, chrysanthemums, willows and winter landscapes etc. An especially well reputed image shows a cat that seems to turn its head always towards the spectator irrespective of the position of the spectator in the room. Furthermore an image of a spruce and that of a sparrow whose realism is characterized by an anecdote that the painted trees have sweated resin but the sparrow had started to fly just having been finished. In view of these artworks the gimmick of placing a board into the veranda floor that emits a sound reminding one of a tweeting bird when one steps on the board.

Below the front gallery of the temple a gilded withered umbrella is stuck into the woodwork that according to a myth had flown in ancient times out of the hands of a boy who had changed into the form of the god Inari and provided protection against fire. In this function the magic umbrella does not seem to have performed well given the repeated destruction of the temple buildings in fires. The believers use the umbrella to gain a view into the future. Who has a desire in his heart and wants to be informed about its fulfilment throws small balls made out of clay or chewed paper on the umbrella. If the projectiles stick, this is considered a good omen, as a blessing by the god asked in this strange way. Given the numerous bought requests to learn about the future that are attached to the woodwork and sully the room, the number of believers who have wishes and desire to know the future are very large indeed.

Inari is the harvest and rice god which Kitsune, the Japanese fox, has selected as his servant. The fox has been selected due to its cunning as a temple guard and has this function at the entrance of many temples, made out of various materials. Beside the fox, the crane and also the freshwater turtle are especially venerated and both as symbols of luck, the latter one also as a symbol for a long life and peaceful dotage, one of the seven felicities. Thus too the preference for the display of these animals in bronze, in porcelain or in lacquerware and also using such objects as birthday presents to express the desire of a long life for the recipient.

On a small hill between the trees stands the tower completed in 1618 that has a giant bell of over 3 m and a nearly as large diameter at the base and of a respective thickness. This bell had been cast in 1633 and has considerable quantities of gold added to improve the purity of its sound. A tree trunk fixed to the exterior of the tower serves as a ram-like bobbin.

In djinn rickshaws we drove through multiple clean and especially cute streets to the temple  Gion-jajira that lies close to the one just visited and is dedicated to the Shinto cult. This is very simple to detect even for a stranger by the gates already familiar from Mijajima. In general it its easier for foreigners to gain entrance into a Buddhist temple than a Shinto one but we did not have any troubles today. In the forecourt were numerous votive tablets covered with long sayings and lamps. In the interior rooms we found the mirror and the Gohei as a symbol, guarded by two grotesque figures, a unicorn and a tiger. In front of an alter stood on clean small tables food and drink offerings, mostly rice, fish and sake that the believers have given in large quantities and which are received by the priests as a welcome offering.

A stark test to our rickshaw runners was posed by the road ascending steeply through a row of small alleys in whose shops porcelain and namely puppets of all kind were sold that led to the Buddhist temple of Kijomitsu. This is very popular in Japan for being dedicated to the goddess of mercy called Kwan-on, who listening to the prayers of the humans may safe them out of calamities and in apparent symbols of this power is shown with multiple faces, 40 arms and a 1000 hands. The history of the foundation of this sanctuary is a myth and lost in ancient times. In any case the temple is said to be among the oldest buildings in Kyoto. Here too a row of steeply ascending steps leads to a path to the two story high gate.

A bit higher lies a pagoda of three stories that is distinguished by its richly carved ornaments ad takes up a dominant position. In its proximity are some smaller chapels. Approaching through a path of pillars upwards the visitor finally stands in front of the main temple itself that has a strange effect caused by its ornamented raw pillars. The not really comfortable ascent is much eased by the number of interesting objects that make us rest at any moment to look at them and admire them. Votive tablets, bronze vases in colossal dimensions, gorgeous fountains with artistically formed dragon figures etc. catch the attention and slow down the steps.

The main temple contains in a shrine a 1,5 m tall image of the sitting „Goddess of Mercy with 1000 Hands“, also called Kwan-on, at whose sides are a row of figures of gods. The shrine is only opened every 33 years so that the people are granted viewing the the image of mercy. The decoration of the altar is a wild mix of living plants, artificial flowers, vases, candleholders, incense burners and offering vessels. The believers can work into motion large bells  with intertwined white-red ropes and thus assure consideration from the goddess for especially important pleas. Eternal lights are burning in the temple that is visited day and night by believers seeking mercy and aid.

On the frontside of the temple is a wooden platform called Butai, that is a dancing scene, with two wings for the orchestra, built apparently for special ceremonies on important holy days. A hall connected to this platform is filled with votive images that contain in part very interesting representations of events and actions n which the goddess has helped the donor. Besides the presence of symbols of various kinds such as the holy temple horses in all kinds of potential poses and gaits, one can see human fates in a colorful alternation, important events next to minor ones, heated cavalry battles and fights with giants and monsters next to the discomforts of daily life are preserved for eternity —  all in commemoration of the goddess with her thousand hands who had provided help.

The strange impression that the total site of the temple and the local situation makes on the spectator is still increased by the fact that the hill that carries the main temple is separated by a gorge from another sanctuary also dedicated to the goddess Kwan-on.

This building stands on poles rises above the hill and offers a splendid view of Kyoto and its picturesque surroundings for visitors from the veranda. Countless votive images provide here too testimony about the goddess‘ helping power whose wooden bust has been worn away by the frequent touches from the body parts of the believers in need. Among the votive images the representation of a steam boat deserves to be mentioned which is just experiencing the explosion of its boiler. A number of people on the ship, however, are saved from the impending drowning by the majestic goddess in the clouds.

From the platform of the veranda, fanatics jumped not rarely down over the rocks into a depth of 30 m holding but an opened umbrella in their hands to test whether the eternal protection of heaven was theirs which would be shown by the audacious jumpers surviving the fall intact while broken bones were seen as a quite sensitive refusal of divine protection. Often the dangerous jump was made to get a judgement of god. Killing oneself to enter into the nirvana close to the temple suggests itself. Finally the newly organized police had a lattice built around the platform and thus terminated the various aspirations of the jumpers.

Another smaller temple seems to be dedicated to a goddess for her effectiveness in protecting children. Here are found all kinds of votive images and other objects that are related to such protection of youth by the goddess, thus lattices that prevent children from falling down and small clay Buddha statues equipped with red bibs tied around the neck similar in the way one uses them to prevent kids to soil their clothes during a meal.

The number of visits today was concluded with one to the temple of the Buddhist Shin or Ikko sect that had been founded by Shinran, a descendant of an ancient noble family, in the year 1213 and is said to have over 10.000 temples in the country and said to distinguish itself by a certain level of rationality in its teachings as well as the purity of the behavior of its adherents. The belief in Buddha, noble thoughts and acts are the main demands for the believer whereas the celibacy, penitence and all kinds of asceticism or monastic life etc. are repudiated. Especially remarkable is that the founder of the sect has introduced the local language into the rituals and that the priesthood is inherited as it is among the Shintoists. The sect which intends a reform of Buddhist beliefs by the re-foundation of its original purity and is eager to teach its adherents also in the European sciences has not only in Kyoto but in every larger city two temples. Nishi (West) and Higashi (East) honganji.

The former, built in 1591 or 1592, is remarkable by its important dimensions as well as the richness of its decorations and the ornaments which are apparently connected with the cult of the especially splendid decoration by the sect. What gorgeous trunks have been used here as pillars and in the woodwork! What luxurious and still noble ornaments provide such true artistic enjoyment! The main entrance is covered with splendid carvings that represent flowers and leaves of chrysanthemums. Similar decorations are found on the friezes and extends up into the woodwork of the ceiling.

One of the most famous woodcutters of the country who could only use his left arm is said to have enlivened the rigid wood by those master works. A mighty tree growing in the temple courtyard is said to have the power to protect the temple from fire. The interior room, and namely both the nave and the two side chapels, richly light up thanks to the gilded areas on the walls and also the pillars when light enters from the veranda. To the right and left are chapel-like rooms that contain almost two hundred year old Kakemonos with golden letters on a dark-blue background proclaiming the god and furthermore the portraits of important believers of the sect.

The shrine of a height of about 60 cm encloses a statue showing the sect’s founder in a sitting position and is covered with gilded and painted flower ornaments while the altar on its front side is divided into individual fields with flowers and birds that are in contrast to the gilded background. In front of the image of the founder hangs a frame that holds the name of the currently ruling Mikado.

In an almost endless row of hall-like rooms of other buildings belonging to the temple, especially the government rooms we could admire gorgeous stitchings and paintings that covered the movable walls. Here there are all kinds of trees and bushes, there  chrysanthemums, then again geese and peacocks that have inspired and served the artists as models of living and natural beings. All these master works that are able to improve the understanding of the ancient Japanese art in a much different way than the goods that reach Europe are painted on long paper rolls that first lay horizontally in front of the artist and only after the completion are mounted on the walls. In general there are very few paintings from ancient Japan that are painted directly on vertical areas.

Through a labyrinth-like garden I was led to the home of the high priest who received us in a purple dress similar to those used by the Catholic bishops. This religious official is one of the highest religious dignitaries of Japan, a consequence of the respect awarded to the the sect as well as the circumstance that the Niji-hongwanji in Kyoto is seen as the main temple of the sect and its priests provide leadership in matters for the religious community in the whole country.

In 1876 the now ruling Mikado has awarded the title of Kenshin-daishi, that is Great Master, to the founder of the Shin doctrine who died 600 years ago which was a high honor and a recognition for the direction into which the reforming spirit of this Buddhist sect is moving. After the dignified leader of the Shin had offered us snow-like shaped fruit ice as well as very heavily sweetened treats that I could only force down with great effort, we drove to our residence in a djinn rickshaw column that had become all the longer as the assigned dignitaries and policemen were joined by a considerable number of reporters who were the complete equal of their European colleagues as far as their zealousness to their profession was concerned.

The afternoon was devoted to shopping for which Kyoto offers great opportunities. However the prices in the larger and better known shops are already set for trading with foreigners that I mostly avoided those progressive shops that carried the sign „Curio Shop“ and directed my steps to trading shops in the side alleys where I found also beautiful objects but at considerably less expensive prices as it the most prominent shops.

The regular layout of the streets in endless long lines from South to North and in a shorter extent from East to West makes the orientation much easier which is all the more helpful as we had to cover considerable distances between one shop and the next. As an aside, the distances in the city in Kyoto are calculated from the point of the Sanjo bridge built by the Taiko-sama. Everywhere one notices the cleanliness in the public areas as well as the fact that in Kyoto the sprinkling of the streets in front of the houses works much better than this is the case at home where it is the duty of the caretakers with their perennial bad moods.

During the drive I saw also a small factory in which the very common and quite pretty porcelain wares are produced in a process that is still not much removed from the artisanal method. The easier tasks are done by boys and women, the more difficult ones by men. In general the fabrication process, as far as the process and the tools used for it are concerned, looks still primitive.

Still the production speed achieved in part by the large division of labor is astonishing. As the form is quickly created on the potter’s wheel, then dried for a short time and afterwards painted. For the latter purpose a foreman sketches the outline of the figure or other decoration on the object itself which then wanders from hand to hand that add each some colors or some brush strokes until the artwork is ready to go into the oven for the final burning.

The location of the earthenware and porcelain industry is on the left bank of the Kamo-gawa in the quarter of Kiyomizu  which we had already crossed on our way to the visit to the temple of the same name. Here they produce and sell primarily goods for the home market, but for some years there exists also a production dedicated to foreign taste and export which has increased considerably since 1868. That the porcelain industry is not native in Japan but the permanent success of the expedition in which Taiko-sama set out to conquer Korea and China can be assumed as correct. The daimyos of Satsuma, Hisen, Choshu and multiple other brought home artisans from Korea who became the founders of the Japanese pottery industry.

In the evening we visited one of the largest tea houses in which female dancers put their art on display. But I could not applaud their choreographic skills nor their singing to the accompanying instruments. The allure for novelties which both in tea houses and the productions of dancers and singers performed in them at first exert is likely to certainly catch the interest to a high degree. Still I can not share the delight of the Europeans for these establishments and about the artistic skills of the puppet-like beauties.

Links

  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • ANNO – on 08.08.1893 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 Troubadour“.

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.