Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything

Bride.Ru

Books Menu

Home
Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog

 

- UNBEATEN TRACKS IN JAPAN - 2/58 -


of wood working on pins placed on outrigger bars. The men scull standing and use the thigh as a rest for the oar. They all wear a single, wide-sleeved, scanty, blue cotton garment, not fastened or girdled at the waist, straw sandals, kept on by a thong passing between the great toe and the others, and if they wear any head- gear, it is only a wisp of blue cotton tied round the forehead. The one garment is only an apology for clothing, and displays lean concave chests and lean muscular limbs. The skin is very yellow, and often much tattooed with mythical beasts. The charge for sampans is fixed by tariff, so the traveller lands without having his temper ruffled by extortionate demands.

The first thing that impressed me on landing was that there were no loafers, and that all the small, ugly, kindly-looking, shrivelled, bandy-legged, round-shouldered, concave-chested, poor-looking beings in the streets had some affairs of their own to mind. At the top of the landing-steps there was a portable restaurant, a neat and most compact thing, with charcoal stove, cooking and eating utensils complete; but it looked as if it were made by and for dolls, and the mannikin who kept it was not five feet high. At the custom-house we were attended to by minute officials in blue uniforms of European pattern and leather boots; very civil creatures, who opened and examined our trunks carefully, and strapped them up again, contrasting pleasingly with the insolent and rapacious officials who perform the same duties at New York.

Outside were about fifty of the now well-known jin-ti-ki-shas, and the air was full of a buzz produced by the rapid reiteration of this uncouth word by fifty tongues. This conveyance, as you know, is a feature of Japan, growing in importance every day. It was only invented seven years ago, and already there are nearly 23,000 in one city, and men can make so much more by drawing them than by almost any kind of skilled labour, that thousands of fine young men desert agricultural pursuits and flock into the towns to make draught-animals of themselves, though it is said that the average duration of a man's life after he takes to running is only five years, and that the runners fall victims in large numbers to aggravated forms of heart and lung disease. Over tolerably level ground a good runner can trot forty miles a day, at a rate of about four miles an hour. They are registered and taxed at 8s. a year for one carrying two persons, and 4s. for one which carries one only, and there is a regular tariff for time and distance.

The kuruma, or jin-ri-ki-sha, {2} consists of a light perambulator body, an adjustable hood of oiled paper, a velvet or cloth lining and cushion, a well for parcels under the seat, two high slim wheels, and a pair of shafts connected by a bar at the ends. The body is usually lacquered and decorated according to its owner's taste. Some show little except polished brass, others are altogether inlaid with shells known as Venus's ear, and others are gaudily painted with contorted dragons, or groups of peonies, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and mythical personages. They cost from 2 pounds upwards. The shafts rest on the ground at a steep incline as you get in--it must require much practice to enable one to mount with ease or dignity--the runner lifts them up, gets into them, gives the body a good tilt backwards, and goes off at a smart trot. They are drawn by one, two, or three men, according to the speed desired by the occupants. When rain comes on, the man puts up the hood, and ties you and it closely up in a covering of oiled paper, in which you are invisible. At night, whether running or standing still, they carry prettily-painted circular paper lanterns 18 inches long. It is most comical to see stout, florid, solid- looking merchants, missionaries, male and female, fashionably- dressed ladies, armed with card cases, Chinese compradores, and Japanese peasant men and women flying along Main Street, which is like the decent respectable High Street of a dozen forgotten country towns in England, in happy unconsciousness of the ludicrousness of their appearance; racing, chasing, crossing each other, their lean, polite, pleasant runners in their great hats shaped like inverted bowls, their incomprehensible blue tights, and their short blue over-shirts with badges or characters in white upon them, tearing along, their yellow faces streaming with perspiration, laughing, shouting, and avoiding collisions by a mere shave.

After a visit to the Consulate I entered a kuruma and, with two ladies in two more, was bowled along at a furious pace by a laughing little mannikin down Main Street--a narrow, solid, well- paved street with well-made side walks, kerb-stones, and gutters, with iron lamp-posts, gas-lamps, and foreign shops all along its length--to this quiet hotel recommended by Sir Wyville Thomson, which offers a refuge from the nasal twang of my fellow-voyagers, who have all gone to the caravanserais on the Bund. The host is a Frenchman, but he relies on a Chinaman; the servants are Japanese "boys" in Japanese clothes; and there is a Japanese "groom of the chambers" in faultless English costume, who perfectly appals me by the elaborate politeness of his manner.

Almost as soon as I arrived I was obliged to go in search of Mr. Fraser's office in the settlement; I say SEARCH, for there are no names on the streets; where there are numbers they have no sequence, and I met no Europeans on foot to help me in my difficulty. Yokohama does not improve on further acquaintance. It has a dead-alive look. It has irregularity without picturesqueness, and the grey sky, grey sea, grey houses, and grey roofs, look harmoniously dull. No foreign money except the Mexican dollar passes in Japan, and Mr. Fraser's compradore soon metamorphosed my English gold into Japanese satsu or paper money, a bundle of yen nearly at par just now with the dollar, packets of 50, 20, and 10 sen notes, and some rouleaux of very neat copper coins. The initiated recognise the different denominations of paper money at a glance by their differing colours and sizes, but at present they are a distracting mystery to me. The notes are pieces of stiff paper with Chinese characters at the corners, near which, with exceptionally good eyes or a magnifying glass, one can discern an English word denoting the value. They are very neatly executed, and are ornamented with the chrysanthemum crest of the Mikado and the interlaced dragons of the Empire.

I long to get away into real Japan. Mr. Wilkinson, H.B.M.'s acting consul, called yesterday, and was extremely kind. He thinks that my plan for travelling in the interior is rather too ambitious, but that it is perfectly safe for a lady to travel alone, and agrees with everybody else in thinking that legions of fleas and the miserable horses are the great drawbacks of Japanese travelling.

I. L. B.

LETTER II

Sir Harry Parkes--An "Ambassador's Carriage"--Cart Coolies.

YOKOHAMA, May 22.

To-day has been spent in making new acquaintances, instituting a search for a servant and a pony, receiving many offers of help, asking questions and receiving from different people answers which directly contradict each other. Hours are early. Thirteen people called on me before noon. Ladies drive themselves about the town in small pony carriages attended by running grooms called bettos. The foreign merchants keep kurumas constantly standing at their doors, finding a willing, intelligent coolie much more serviceable than a lazy, fractious, capricious Japanese pony, and even the dignity of an "Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary" is not above such a lowly conveyance, as I have seen to-day. My last visitors were Sir Harry and Lady Parkes, who brought sunshine and kindliness into the room, and left it behind them. Sir Harry is a young-looking man scarcely in middle life, slight, active, fair, blue-eyed, a thorough Saxon, with sunny hair and a sunny smile, a sunshiny geniality in his manner, and bearing no trace in his appearance of his thirty years of service in the East, his sufferings in the prison at Peking, and the various attempts upon his life in Japan. He and Lady Parkes were most truly kind, and encourage me so heartily in my largest projects for travelling in the interior, that I shall start as soon as I have secured a servant. When they went away they jumped into kurumas, and it was most amusing to see the representative of England hurried down the street in a perambulator with a tandem of coolies.

As I look out of the window I see heavy, two-wheeled man-carts drawn and pushed by four men each, on which nearly all goods, stones for building, and all else, are carried. The two men who pull press with hands and thighs against a cross-bar at the end of a heavy pole, and the two who push apply their shoulders to beams which project behind, using their thick, smoothly-shaven skulls as the motive power when they push their heavy loads uphill. Their cry is impressive and melancholy. They draw incredible loads, but, as if the toil which often makes every breath a groan or a gasp were not enough, they shout incessantly with a coarse, guttural grunt, something like Ha huida, Ho huida, wa ho, Ha huida, etc.

I. L. B.

LETTER III

Yedo and Tokiyo--The Yokohama Railroad--The Effect of Misfits--The Plain of Yedo--Personal Peculiarities--First Impressions of Tokiyo- -H. B. M.'s Legation--An English Home.

H.B.M.'s LEGATION, YEDO, May 24.

I have dated my letter Yedo, according to the usage of the British Legation, but popularly the new name of Tokiyo, or Eastern Capital, is used, Kiyoto, the Mikado's former residence, having received the name of Saikio, or Western Capital, though it has now no claim to be regarded as a capital at all. Yedo belongs to the old regime and the Shogunate, Tokiyo to the new regime and the Restoration, with their history of ten years. It would seem an incongruity to travel to Yedo by railway, but quite proper when the destination is Tokiyo.

The journey between the two cities is performed in an hour by an admirable, well-metalled, double-track railroad, 18 miles long, with iron bridges, neat stations, and substantial roomy termini, built by English engineers at a cost known only to Government, and opened by the Mikado in 1872. The Yokohama station is a handsome and suitable stone building, with a spacious approach, ticket- offices on our plan, roomy waiting-rooms for different classes-- uncarpeted, however, in consideration of Japanese clogs--and supplied with the daily papers. There is a department for the weighing and labelling of luggage, and on the broad, covered, stone platform at both termini a barrier with turnstiles, through which,


UNBEATEN TRACKS IN JAPAN - 2/58

Previous Page     Next Page

  1    2    3    4    5    6    7   10   20   30   40   50   58 

Schulers Books Home



 Games Menu

Home
Balls
Battleship
Buzzy
Dice Poker
Memory
Mine
Peg
Poker
Tetris
Tic Tac Toe

Google
 
Web schulers.com
 

Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything