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“.

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