Schlagwort-Archiv: sightseeing

Yellowstone Lake Hotel, 24 September 1893

Fortunately. Clam was able to participate in today’s drive, especially as the weather was to be splendid and a relatively warm day to be expected. At the Fountain Geyser Hotel, the landlord offered us still an example of American unfriendliness by answering our question about the time when the Old Faithful would play again with a moody „I don’t know“. Having just disappeared in the forest, we learned from the hunters in the second wagon behind us that the geyser had jumped into action only a few minutes ago.

Up to the Upper Geyser Basin we took the same route as the day before and then drove on past the geysers visited yesterday. They were smoking especially strongly due to the cool morning temperature. From there to Lake Yellowstone, a forest was our constant companion that looked quite desert and barren but not like one we were familiar with and contained at least some beautiful trees. A large number of them showed fresh traces from bears that had climbed the trees and left cuts from their paws in the bark. These climbing exercises are made by the bears only for entertainment purposes as they find their food only on the ground, while beaver were hard at work on trunks as thick as an arm that had completely bitten through at a height of about 30 cm.

The first point on our route where our admiration was invited was in no way justifying it. These were the Kepler falls that are formed by the Firehole river falling down over a few stones in a small gorge. A rock formation and stony slopes that interrupted the forest were blanketed with a light snow and made us consider as passionate mountain hunters how suitable this place would be for chamois and how much this place would thus be improved in our eyes.

The road with many curves proved this year that all road works and repairs had been canceled. The Yellowstone Park company had had a bad year as the visitor count amounted only to 3000 persons and had to save money everywhere and for example had to fire 100 coachmen and to send 200 horses into the prairie as there was no work for them.

After a longer ascent and repeated watering of the horses we reached a wooded high plateau of considerable size where a table at 2470 m above sea level with the inscription „Continental Divide“ informed about the fact that the watershed between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean was there. Out of an extended forest shone the blue area of Lake Shoshone to the South and in the far distance rose some snow-covered peaks.

In very sharply turning serpentine roads the route led down the mountain which showed that the park company did not care much for the safety of the visitors or did trust in their horses very much: The small track which was just wide enough for a wagon without any railing or other safety measure was close to the abyss. Furthermore the road bed consisted of very soft material and was criss-crossed by tracks that did not inspire much confidence.

Completely unexpected, suddenly Lake Yellowstone lay at our feet and we enjoyed the gorgeous view was open to the distant surrounding mountains.This lake covers at an altitude of 2360 m an area of 302 km2 and extends into the land with deep bays so that one can compare it to four fingers of a hand. First for us lay the West Bay or Thumb where even the breakfast is usually eaten in a tent.

Very close many hot springs were sputtering, some of which were remarkable, thus a mud spring similar to the Mammoth Paint Pots which however cast out intensively pink colored instead of the white slurry and thus resembles a boiling strawberry cream, then the tanner’s spring with brown water etc. Some springs were near the lake shore, some even within the lake so that at the Fishing Cone only the depositions separate the hot from the cold water. Here one can catch a trout in the lake while standing on the edge of the spring and cook them immediately in the hot water without moving from the place — a joke that is often practised as the many fishbones and skeletons lying around proved.

In the lunch tent where we were presented with a barely edible breakfast fitting for the end of the season we found a group of Germans who were on their way to a four-week hunting expedition to the South of the park and were drivelling  about the great quantities of game there. The careful park cavalry command had sealed the rifles of these followers of Nimrod for the duration of their journey through the park.

On the small steamboat „Zillah“ that was not owned by the park company but a private company that took us to the other shore of the lake, the captain was acting also as pilot, cashier and steward to safe money. The main treasure of the boat formed capital wapiti antlers that were affixed below the star-spangled banner — a widespread custom in this region. I even once saw a locomotive that had an antler on its funnel. Idyllic calm lay over the area of the mountain lake which was splendidly by mighty mountains among them Mount Sheridan, Mount Cathedral, Grizzly, Eagle Peak and Mount Table. From the shore to the mountains unfathomable woods reach up to the limit of vegetation which also forms the main place for the local buffaloes. Only a little time ago a group of travellers passing by is said to have seen these giants of the animal world from the ship. Numerous ducks and geese populated the lake and were mingling extremely close to our vehicle. At some distance we saw swans and pelicans and on a small sand bank sat a sea eagle with a snow-white head and tail.

The Yellowstone Lake Hotel, another tasteless building, stands on a small hill above the lake and is to me due to its view the most sympathetic among the hotels in the park of those that I have been to.

As the owner of the steamer had made me the proposition to go salmon fishing before dawn we drove in two small boats to the place where the Yellowstone river flows out of the sea to try our luck. I fished with a trolling rod and a lure but there was not much chance for success as only the months of July and August were favorable for fishing and the fish showed little inclination for biting due to the cold. In the gorgeous clear water of the river where one could everywhere see the ground even at considerable depth were numerous fishes but even the most tempting lures were without much force of attraction until finally two salmon trouts gave in to our temptation and became the catch of Imhof who sat with me in the boat. These salmonids distinguished themselves by their especially beautiful coloring as their gold-yellow and rose red skin was covered with numerous dark spots.

A German who had been fishing at the same time and whom we met by chance assured me that the fish had bitten a little bit better in the morning but the present hour is certainly unfavorable so that we decided to retreat while a  gorgeous beautiful setting of the sun, an alpenglow and the concurrent rise of the moon over the quiet mountain lake was more than sufficient compensation for the not much satisfying fishing.

For later in the evening the appearance of a bear was promised that, as was said in the hotel, used to pay a visit to the muck heap near the house with its numerous dumped tins at dusk. The day before a group had surprised it during its meal. It then climbed a tree and was bombarded by the people present with pieces of wood. Despite a long wait we saw nothing but found a horse carcass that had already been fretted by a bear.

An older Hebe with glasses and a low-cut dress who made an extremely comical expression was serving us at supper. During the night we had to endure a severe cold in the damp rooms without a stove.


Fountain Geyser Hotel, 23 September 1893

The Yellowstone Park Company administers as a privileged hotel stock company also transportation and has set a sort of day of rest for the horses that have to cover the arduous journey of 68 km from Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to the Fountain Geyser Hotel at Lower Geyser Basin without a relay, which is generally used for an incredibly interesting three hour drive to the most beautiful and largest volcanic formations in the park in the Lower and Upper Geyser Basin.

Clam could not join our drive today as he was once again struck by a reminder of the tropical fever. Dense fog covered the whole ground in the morning but it lifted soon and made way for a very beautiful and relatively warm day. Before the departure we still had a hard struggle with our coachman who did not want to remove the large coach roof at all that restricted the view. Only when we had received the permission of the direction we had asked for by telegraph, did he grudgingly decide to comply with our wish, not without however breaking the construction of the roof.

The wagon first rumbled over a hollow sounding calcareous sinter terrace that made us fear to sink in, and in fact one of our rear wheels glided into a small crater of a hot spring. Barely five minutes distant from our hotel we spotted a capital wolf that was milling around 200 paces in front of us in an open space and which reawakened our vivid lamentation of not being permitted to hunt in the park. For a long time we were able to observe it at shooting distance until it disappeared into the woods looking back again and again towards us.

Very close to the Firehole River lies Excelsior Geyser that had had no eruptions since 1888, with a short exception in 1890, but in former times had been the most important in the basin and sent its water masses 60 to 90 m up into the air as a true „Geysir“, old Icelandic for berserker. Now one can only see a large crater with boiling hot water that is dark-blue in the middle and reddish at the edges due to the underlying deposits and that are reflected in the rising steam.

Close to the Excelsior Geyser our wagon stopped near the edge of the Turquoise Springs whose clear waters were truly of a turquoise color. Also remarkable are the springs nearby,  Artemisia and Morning Glory.

A bridge over the Firehole river leads to the extended upper geyser basin which holds numerous springs and up to 40 geysers that we could already see from near the bridge. First we saw the Riverside Geyser whose eruption happening at certain intervals we unfortunately had missed, then the Grotto that has created some sort of vault and a cone above its spring. The next geyser is called Castle due to its crater form and erupts in irregular periods and resembles in my opinion a tall smoking chimney.

The most beautiful and largest currently active geyser is the Old Faithful that fully earns its name as it keeps exactly to its times of eruption, 65 minutes of rest and 4 minutes of show. We thus could use the remaining half hour to the next eruption to visit a snow-white lime terrace that was carrying a good number of fountains on its vaulted surface. Thus the Beehive with its beehive-like cone that has been formed in such a regular way that one could think it is a work of art. The strange black-purple water color marks the Giantess who erupts only every 14 days while her husband, the Giant, is very moody and produces his water spectacles in intervals that can’t be predicted.

Very cute small geysers are the „sponge“ and the „butterfly“ that vividly blow out small water jets aggrandising themselves. The former completely resembles a sponge in color and look, while the latter exactly matches the contours of the wings of a butterfly. At the Lion and the Lioness, small geysers with cone-shaped craters, one notices a bubble-like hard sinter deposit at the outer wall  which is tempting to take a souvenir of a small piece as something new and not yet seen. But this is prevented by the severe watchful soldier who does not leave any travel group unattended. He prevented any catch and stepped in when Imhof finally had managed with great effort to get a piece of the sinter and hide it, so that he again plucked the valuable treasure out of the pocket of the sinner.

Our guide made us aware that it was time to return to the Old Faithful where my curiosity led me to take a look at the already rumbling crater, an undertaking that was punished by a hot steam cloud that suddenly enclosed me and burned strongly. Immediately after the eruption followed, the huge water mass rose like an immense fountain spring to about 45 m, presenting a gorgeous spectacle whose effect was much improved by the beautiful weather, the deep-blue sky and the dark-green background of the fir tree woods. As quickly as it had appeared, the gigantic water jet that looked different on every side sank back into the crater whose surrounding area consists of a small basin in the form of a wave where the remaining water quickly evaporates.

The hunger that comes with the enjoyment of nature is quenched in a wooden hotel where one eats breakfast. As the Old Faithful erupts, as noted, every 65 minutes we waited for the next eruption to admire it once more and take photographs.

The named geysers and springs is far from being a complete list of such attractions here. That’s why I still visited a number of other geysers in the afternoon with a light wagon. One might believe that one more or less resembles the other and that one soon tires of further visits. But this is not the case  as each wonder of nature distinguishes itself by special features and strange aspects.

The Grotto we had already seen in the morning pleased us by just then offering a show by sending out a cascade of hot water from multiple openings at the same time. Then we came to the Punch Bowl, a boiling spring with a raised edge, then to the White Pyramid, a cone of a defunct crater, the Splendid Geyser, Fan, Mortar and all others of these spectacles of nature that still might be named. In a small side valley we were blinded by the snow-white deposits of multiple springs that extended there like a moraine there and had in time turned the dead trees into stone.

Hodek wanted to photograph in an especially picturesque pose appropriate to the character of the region and asked us to climb the very steep crater of the apparently quiet Castle Geyser and take up position at the narrow edge. This image of the audacious climb of the crater would have been very original but Prónay and I had hardly arrived at the top when our intention seemed to displease the old Castle, as suddenly it started to erupt and to spout water over us while hot steam also burned Prónay’s nose. Involuntarily we had to admit that our undertaking had not been more sensible than what the German had done at the Constant Geyser, and sought relief from our failed enterprise by watching the show of the Old Faithful again from a distance.

We returned to the hotel on a different route than we arrived on which we had to pass a rather deep ford of the Firehole River with the wagon while multiple flocks of geese were quacking. While my gentlemen still undertook an evening stroll, I remained in the hotel to write in my diary until the splendid moon rise enticed me to go outside again.


Livingston—Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, 21 September 1893

Our sleep was severely disturbed by the constant moving of our wagon which happened with ruthless knocks and incessant whistling and ringing of bells of the locomotives so that we greeted the departure of the train to our final destination, Cinnabar station, with pleasure.

The two-hour drive went alongside the Yellowstone river to a valley that opens up after passing through a gorge called the „Gate of the Mountains“. The name of the valley is Paradise Valley. High mountains with snow-covered peaks, among them Emigrant Peak 3340 m high, rise on both sides of the valley. A half hour before Cinnabar the valley becomes narrower again and forms a rocky romantic gorge with sandstone walls that rise up to 600 m high towards the mountains. Here already the volcanic character of the area becomes apparent in many of its rock types and forms.

At Cinnabar, the arriving passengers had to wait for large coaches pulled by four six very good horses for the drive to the first interesting point in the Yellowstone Park, Mammoth Hot Springs. Leaving the wagon we were welcomed by the severe cold and after barely half a kilometer we arrived in a snowy landscape. The vegetation was quite sparse matching the high altitude of around 1600 m above sea level, but there were fir trees near the streams and mountain ledges, a small thuja, poplars and an especially grey-green broom that is predominant here. I was astonished to see here everywhere a dwarf cactus armed with long spines who grows crawling on the floor.

The road was at times very steeply laid out as it had to rise 368 m over a distance of only about 13 km. At the small settlement of Gardiner that lies at the place where the eponymous river flows into the Yellowstone River I noticed numerous wapiti antlers lying around. Here we reached the territory of the Yellowstone national park.

This famous and much visited park that covers an area of 22.560 km2 was established by an act of congress in 1872 and declared a public park that may not be changed in any way: logging, hunting, mining etc. are all prohibited. This commendable act preserves the originality of the landscape distinguished by its natural beauty and its strange volcanic forms and protects it from destruction by humans. The whole are is of volcanic origin that causes a large number of geysers, hot springs, terraces an crater formations, obsidian rocks and sulphur hills that are both astonishing and admired by the visitors. For example, the geysers are said to surpass those in Island by far.

About one and a half kilometers from this point where one enters the park, one crosses the border to Wyoming on which lies the largest part of the park while Montana and Idaho participate with far smaller areas in this park.

Having conquered the last slope, the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, nearly 2000 m above sea level, lay in front of us, a formless giant wooden building with multiple annexes, resplendent in red and yellow color. Some of the pavilions at the right served as barracks and stables for a cavalry battalion that is responsible for guarding the park and keeping up the order. The star-spangled banner on a high mast marked the assembly place of this formation.

The park is closed for visitors every year at the end of September so that the season was already coming to a close. Still there were many guests in the hotel and among them a considerable number of cantankerous Germans who had apparently come here from the exposition in Chicago. Even though the hotel offers space for 400 beds and is said to be the best of the park, it was nevertheless lacking in all comforts and an all the amenities for the travellers. A deficit that was further increased by the careless if not completely missing service.

After we finally had settled in our quarters, we went to the Mammoth Hot Springs, hot springs that form terraces by their lime deposits whose coloring and picturesque structure create such a splendid spectacle that can not be found in as beautiful manner in New Zealand, Island or Asia Minor. In a heavy snowfall we walked across the whole area consisting of around 70 springs and 10 to 12 terraces. Besides the white, flashy yellow or brown-red color of the depositions the deep blue of the springs that were bubbling and transporting their hot water out of unfathomable depths was all the more effective. Many of these sources whose temperature was fluctuating between 12 and 47° C. show, by the way, a totally clear surface so that we could look down the azure or dark-blue funnel, when the constant rising steam drifted away in the wind, and observe the structure of the deposits and the rocks. Despite the sometimes quite high temperatures of the water there was a thin layer of algae on the rocks. The crumbling edge of the springs was glittering due to the precipitations mostly in a brownish or vermilion color while at the drains  beautiful dripstone and fine-leafed deposits were developing. If these are still fully white or light yellow mixed with sulphur, then it is seen as a proof that the spring had been in existence for a short time.

One strange characteristic of every volcanic area which is on display here especially frequently is the sudden disappearance and drying up of springs and geysers while just as unexpected they emerge anew in other places. Thus we were shown a spring that had existed only for two weeks but had already developed to quite a substantial size.

As in all places visited often by foreigners so here too every remarkable point, every terrace and spring had its own name that was preserved for eternity on white boards and often quite strange or absurd. Thus two mighty stone cones of dried up geysers standing in the open that are visited right at the beginning of the tour carry the names of Liberty Cap and Giant’s Thumb. Having passed these cones one climbs on snow-white lime up to the largest terrace called Minerva Terrace and then one terrace follows the next, spring follows spring. Among the most remarkable sights I count Jupiter Terrace, Pulpit Basins, Pictured Terrace, Narrow Gauge Terrace, Cupid’s Cave, Devil’s Cave and Bear Cave, — the last three named are deep crater-like holes in the rock out of which once springs flowed a long time ago — finally Orange Geyser and the White Elephant. These are two hot springs that do not form terraces but pile up their deposits as a cone. The name of Orange Geyser is correct in so far as the lime of this spring apparently includes a mixture of iron oxide and thus provides it with an orange-like appearance. The White Elephant in fact resembles a giant pachyderm of that species and hot water was gushing out from under our feet when we climbed up on one of the smooth sides and stepped on the „back“ of the formation.

Except for those already named there were numerous smaller structures, sources and springs. And nearly everywhere we stepped on this volcanic ground, it sounded dull and hollow under our steps. Many springs are noticed from far away by their whizzing, bubbling or dull noises.

At the foot of Mammoth Hot Springs an enterprising Yankee had opened up a shop where he offers various objects for sale that have been quickly covered by the hot waters with a hard lime layer similar as in Karlsbad.

The evening was quite unpleasant as there was no space in the hotel where once could smoke and talk after the dinner. One is limited to use the staircase and is faced with the presence of the less agreeable company of idling and spitting cowboys and workers who have access to all places, so that we finally fled to one of our rooms.

In the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel one is, by the way, forced to go to bed early as at 11 o’clock all electric lighting is turned off without any consideration for the guests.


Banff — Penticton, 10 September 1893

The beautiful if cold morning stirred me to make an excursion in a four-horse coach to the lake Pamasae-wapta (Lake Minneswanka) or devil’s lake to the East of Banff. On the way we passed first a police station consisting of a row of log cabins in which a detachment of the Canadian Mounted Police was stationed. Then the journey continued for about one and a half hours through a wide valley basin flanked by mighty imposing mountains that were unfortunately nearly completely bare of any vegetation. Bare walls were alternating with uncountable rock and rubble piles.

At the lowest point of the valley lies the blue lake embedded between the mountains. At its shore blinks a small white house in which an unsophisticated Canadian is catering for the foreigners by offering bad sherry, antlers and furs at fabulous prices. An osprey flies fast above the water level pouncing now and then upon its prey. A festive silence reigns on the mountain lake out of which flows a small river that has to thunderously fight its way through narrow gorges toward Banff. In the valley are some pine forests whose trees have strange short branches so that the forest looks like as if the brave Tyroleans had cut them back („g’schnatzelt“) according to their strange bad habit.

Returned to the hotel we learned that the train that was to take us towards noon to a hunting expedition at Gold Range was delayed by three hours — a quite common occurrence here. We thus had to be patient and await the delayed train that brought us back on the same track we had come but only to the station at Sicamous Junction, from which we were to use a line of the Canadian Pacific railway going South.


  • Location: Sicamous, Canada
  • ANNO – on 10.09.1893 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 Templer und die Jüdin“.

Vancouver — Banff, 8 September 1893

As the train that was to drive us on the Canadian Pacific railway through the Rocky Mountains was only set to depart towards 11 o’clock in the morning, I quickly went to see two fur traders who also offered stuffed animals. This happened to a lesser intent for acquisitions but more to get a cursory overview of the fauna of Northern Canada. We saw here mighty sea lions from Vancouver island, Wapiti antlers and heads, buffalo horns, mule deer whose heads with the hanging ears made them resemble mules, blacktails — the latter two species noticeable for their short but very strong pearled antlers whose numerous ends were turned upward and forward — mountain sheep and white mountain goats; among the birds were various Arctic loons and Northern long-tailed ducks, geese and white-headed sea eagles.

One of the two traders, a German named Zimmer, is an original character: He calls himself Indian doctor and carries the title of „professor“ in his ads. His medical activities however is limited to giving the most unbelievable medicines and mixtures to the Indians in exchange for furs. These are mostly not tanned and of a quite deficient quality. The shop presents a state of extreme disorder. The oiled furs are piled up, among them are medicines and healing herbs. An engraving showing a life-sized Emperor Wilhelm is hanging above a pile of mammoth bones and wapiti antlers; some thick-bellied spiders and scorpions are grouped around a Prussian Pickelhaube; various dogs and rabbits are milling around in all rooms. Finally I still started to buy some things and came to an agreement with the old man who owned also beautiful furs of grizzly bears, sea otters and mountain goats. At the end, he grabbed a bleached wapiti antler and said to us: „Whoever among you is the Royal Highness, I offer this as a present.“

We left Vancouver on the daily passenger train of the Canadian Pacific Railway to encounter one of the most interesting railway lines of the world. This railway leads across the whole of Canada from Vancouver to Montreal and forms the quickest connection between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, crossing first the most beautiful parts of North America, namely the famous Rocky Mountains, the American Switzerland, before it descends into the almost endless prairies. Then it leads North of the Great Lakes and finally reaches its Eastern destination of Montreal; the length of the railway including the side tracks is 4677 km.

The government transferred 1140 km of completed railway lines valued at 33 million dollars to the company without compensation and handed it 25 million dollars in cash in order to build this enormous line as well as land of 10.116 km2 which will in perpetuity free from taxation and fees. In 1884 the company was further awarded 22,5 million dollars. The total cost of the Canadian Pacific railway were 250 million dollars. In 1884 the top of the rocky mountains was reached from the East by the Kicking Horse pass and in the following year the connection to the line leading to Vancouver was established.

What enormous difficulties had to be faced for this audacious enterprise! The high mountain ranges with their steep slopes, the avalanches and rock slides, the numerous rivers and gorges and not the least the climatic conditions seemed to stop the advance of the audacious engineers. Technical marvels had to be created in areas where near and far no human being was living, apart from some nomadic wild Indian tribes. The track laying sons of the 19th century were in some areas the first White people to set foot in valleys and mountains that were now to become the location for a triumph of modern technology. The construction was eased only by the fact that it was not difficult to supply and transport the material as the mighty cedars provide excellent wood for rail road ties. Water and stone was missing nowhere. In contrast labor was very expensive as it could only procured with difficulties. The struggle against nature was constant.

Our train consists of a long row of sleeping cars that are equipped with seats that can be turned down at night to form beds which are a bit short but overall quite nice. A central corridor connects all wagons so that one can circulate freely in the full train. As no restaurant wagon can be taken along due to its weight on the steep passages of the rocky mountains, from time to time such a wagon is attached to the train. The observation car permits a better view of the beautiful nature than from the compartments so that those who do not fear the nasty coal dust and the cold have a splendid sight from this wagon. A mighty locomotive with strong headlights and a plow mounted in front pulls the train. For some stretches a second and yes, even a third machine have to be added. Guard houses, barriers and other safety installations are unknown here. Three hours before the actual passage of the train a man on a hand car drives along the line to clear away any obstacles and report them. What eventually happens later is left to the attention of the train driver and — good luck.

The otherwise so well equipped sleeping and parlor cars also have their disadvantages: The windows are low and small due to the upper folding beds, so that one always has to stoop deeply to have a look on the passing scenery. The known ruthlessness of the Yankees makes that the agreeable opportunity of free circulation through all wagons is lessened by the fact that everyone is running here and there, romping and shouting children create a constant chaos and there is always a draft.

Fortunately the railway director had assigned me my own wagon so that I had not to endure this and also was not affected by the otherwise general prohibition of smoking. Usually there is only one class of wagons but there are also so called colonists‘ wagons attached that form a sort of second class.

First the railway track follows alongside a long sea arm that reaches far inland and out of which cheerfully jump salmon while herons stand on the shore and fish and small quacking flocks of ducks fly up. Then the track turns into a small plain that extends over a cultivated area of meadows along the shores of the Fraser or Thompson rivers. Soon however a fresh invigorating air is blowing towards us. The mountain lands engulf us. On both sides we see green heights that are ornamented with a full complement of forests. Now and then a small calm sea or a small river is glittering in the dark green space.

The further we advanced the higher the mountains rose. Mighty rock formations are overhanging and the valley walls were moving close together, the valley getting narrower. wir Unfortunately we soon passed through a zone of burned trees whose bare erect trunks are sad reminders about the senseless destruction for the railway construction. The fires created then were often carried further by the winds and took on horrible dimensions, burning whole ledges and mountain tops so that we drove for hours through regions where the forests were dead. Now and then the destruction has spared a small spot where like an oasis in the desert a beautiful green patch looks down upon us. Now too one can see pillars of smoke rise from forest fires caused by hunting Indians or other forest rangers. How many millions of the most beautiful trees have been thus destroyed in vain!

About an hour later the train reached a station. These stations actually serve only to restock the water for the locomotive boilers around which in time small settlements of workers or trappers grew. Some miserable wooden hovel with two or three rooms always claims the name of „hotel“. Mostly poor or rather depraved looking fellows, a short pipe in the mouth, stand around the station and observe the travellers in the carriages with curiosity.

At nearly every station I left the carriage to refresh myself with the gorgeous mountain air that we found truly exquisite after the numerous hot days spent in the tropics.

Unfortunately we were pursued by unfavorable weather. It rained for nearly the whole day ad the mighty peaks of the rocky mountains were almost continuously engulfed in fog and clouds. We passed through many tunnels and many narrow gorges created by steep rocks standing very closely, while below us Fraser River, a true mountain child, was crashing down into the deep and its splashing revealing the snow water by its milky white color. Automatically it reminded me of our our Enns, that features in some parts a similarly splendid wild water. On the rocks and stones at the shore one often sees crouching Indians who are with a rare calm and endurance fishing salmon. The animals caught are cut into strips and hanged on poles in small open huts and smoked. Hundreds of these smoke huts with beautiful red salmon flesh are visible alongside the river.

Towards the evening the rain stopped, the fog lifted and the mighty forms of the mountains become visible. On the heights we could see the first snow. The mountain suddenly changes completely in character that — if this comparison is permitted — reminds of African forms: sandy ledges without any undergrowth and sparsely covered with pine trees create quite a desolate impression. High and steep rock walls, irregularly layered and all appearing in yellow rise up into the air while in the valley only miserably meager herbs grow.

Until it became completely dark we were driving through such a bleak monotonous landscape.


  • Location: Glacier Park, Canada
  • ANNO – on 08.09.1893 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“

Vancouver, 6 September 1893

Vancouver is of a fully American vintage as the area now covered by the city had been dense jungle in 1885 that had to make way for the small but rapidly growing settlement. Six years after its foundation, the settlement could already be declared a city which now has 20.000 inhabitants and is besides the capital Victoria the most important city of British Columbia as the endpoint of the Canadian Pacific railway and starting point of the transoceanic steamer lines to  Japan and China continuously gains in importance and is in pole position in the fish and wood trade of the North.

The construction stages of Vancouver followed the often described American pattern: first roads, then electric lighting and finally domestic buildings. The latter, incredibly sketchy and for the most part built out of wood can be divided into two groups: They are either „practical buildings“ and thus nothing more than boxes for keeping humans and their possessions or they are „beautiful buildings“ that resemble with their turrets, bays and red paint, an output of a complete lack of taste and constructed in villa style, the houses children put together out of the material from the well known building block kits. These villas are often surrounded by tiny gardens of only a few square meters where the lawn is well tended and appears in a luxurious green. Cities such as Vancouver consist of a core of houses that contain shops and public buildings. Having passed through them, the regular rows of houses end as often only one or two buildings stand in a long-winded avenue with an overblown name. In between is land for sale and the roots of chopped giant trees and the remains of burned trees emerge out of the dense weed.

Such a community makes for a very chastening impression as it immediately shows that its inhabitants are only directed towards profit, the quick earning of money and organize their lives only according to this task and are bereft of the sense for beauty or comfort. What is not profitable, public structures, avenues etc, is mostly discarded. Instead the electric railway whizzes through the streets and many thousands of telegraph and telephone wires are hovering over our heads.  Everybody rushes to do business, urges and hastes. One does not see happy faces. Friends rush past each other without a heartfelt greeting as this would cost them time. Sometimes dubious figures or ragged Indians can be seen in the streets whereas the latter offer a disgusting sight in their degeneration totally ruined by the consumption of fire water and in nothing resemble their proud ancestors, the former owners of this land.

The streets in the most central part of the city of Vancouver are covered with tarmac, all others with much dirt. The sidewalks consist of strong planks of the most beautiful cedar wood. Public buildings have been constructed according to the local taste very quickly and in no less than pleasing form such as the  court of justice, multiple schools etc.

The largest landmark of Vancouver is Stanley Park, a reserve Reserve on a peninsula surrounded by sea bays which still has part of the gorgeous ancient trees that are protected here from profiteering utilization.

The path to the long wooden bridge that connects Vancouver to the park over a sea arm shows on both sides how the splendid jungle are cleared here. A ruthless war of annihilation is undertaken against these 500 to 600 year old cedars, thujas and Douglas fir trees that have reached a height of more than 100 m and a circumference of the trunk of 8 to 10 m and now have to make way so that space can be cleared. The most gorgeous wood that would represent a fabulous value at home is used here to almost exclusively as fuel for locomotives. In most cases a forest is burned down as the saw and the ax are not working fast enough. It hurts to see these mighty patriarchs of the wood be destroyed in vain and on thousands of hectares to see only the remains of former beautiful stocks as withered trunks rising into the sky that are charred at the bottom.

Fire kills these giants that are then, if necessary, cut down and completely burnt. The digging out of the roots means the final step of making the soil fit for agriculture. The cleared ground then remains fallow for multiple years before it is plowed and cultivated. In the whole surrounding area of Vancouver is full of smoke and glimmer. Everywhere one hears the ax strike and even there where there is currently no prospect of starting cultivation at the moment the wood is still burned down by fire in the mean time so that the obstacle is removed for all future eventualities.

After these images of destruction the eye refreshes itself by the sight of the splendid forest of the Stanley Park, the trunks full of ancient force that had set roots here hundreds of years before and under which only the elk and the bear moved while only rarely the steps of a redskin or the call of a wapiti interrupt the deep silence. Now there are everywhere beautiful paths and English inscriptions that prohibit hunting or any kind of destruction and announce the names of various parts of the park. Pale ladies drive around under the the trees for a stroll or arrange picknicks under the shady tree cover. Many of the tree giants has grown over-mature in time, its trunk foul in the interior and the tree top dead but it still remains standing for a human lifetime, imposing by its huge dimensions. One of these dead colossi has a circumference of 12 to 16 m, so that 12 persons can comfortably be accommodated in its interior. We see here cedars, thujas, Douglas and other fir trees, especially the beautiful balsam fir (Abies balsamea) with blueish-gray leaves on the lower side as well as spruces.

Even though the giant trees stand in rather close proximity and thus permit little light to penetrate, the undergrowth is extremely luxurious. We meet here  particularly tree and bush species that are common in Europe too such as maple, alder, hazelnut, poplar, willow etc. Noticeable is the mighty growth of the raspberry and blueberry bushes that form almost small trees and from which one could even make cuttings. Long moss and lichen hang picturesquely from the lower tree branches and the thick entanglement of the undergrowth. The park is enlivened by the numerous channels and bays where one can spot large salmons jump into the air. The mountainous mainland of Canada on the opposite side creates an effective background for the park.

As there was no game in the park despite the hunting prohibition, a zoo has been created at the exit — apparently as a replacement —  in which two American black bears (Baribal, Ursus americanus), two beautiful sea eagles with snow white heads and tails as well as a much harried monkey were living in their cages.

After this truly enjoyable excursion I returned to the city to watch for some time the  outstanding games of some members of the Lawn Tennis Club. I would have gladly joined the game but I lacked the courage given the skills displayed here.


  • Location: Vancouver, Canada
  • ANNO – on 06.09.1893 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 „Aida“.


Nikko — Yokohama, 22 August 1893

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
  • ANNO – on 22.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Der fliegende Holländer“.

Tokyo, 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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“.