More of Japan — Across the Pacific
( Originally Published 1903 )
THE capital of Japan is of course the chief point of interest in the eastern section of the empire. To reach it I was obliged to travel to Yokohama, which is only twelve miles from Tokyo, and from which there is an excellent railway. Yokohama is the great centre of foreign traffic in Japan. Twenty-five years ago it was an insignificant fishing village, but to-day it has a large population and an ever-increasing importance as a commercial-mart. The western half of the city is occupied by the foreign merchants. It is regularly laid out, the streets crossing at right angles, and there are many modern improvements which show the energy of the foreign inhabitants.
I spent no time in Yokohama, being desirous of devoting all my hours to seeing something of Tokyo, which was formerly known as Yedo Yedo, which means "river door." It is situated at the head of the bay at the mouth of what the Japanese call the " Great River," though in the United States it would be classed as an insignificant stream. The city proper is divided into three parts—the Siro, or castle; the Soto-Siro, or outside of the castle; and the Midzi, consisting of the town and suburbs. The castle is a city by itself, containing the palace of the Mikado, the residences of the royal family and of the principal statesmen. These royal palaces have little of the magnificence of the palaces of Europe, and it is only within the past few years that they have been furnished with any of the modern conveniences which we consider so necessary to our comfort in America. Since the Japanese have admitted foreigners to residence in Tokyo, and since so many of them have traveled in Western countries, they have greatly changed their manner of living, so that the Mikado is now surrounded by much of the luxury of European courts. Many of the well-to-do natives wear European dress, and the officials and government servants are attired in uniforms modeled on Western styles.
The Capital City
That portion of the city called the Soto-Siro is the only one that is densely populated. Here the tides of life flow from morning till night, but the other sections of the city are almost as quiet as a country town. The eastern suburb, on an island, containing an area of seven square miles, is a retired locality. It is traversed by canals, which are the boundaries of municipalities. In the western section, upon the streets leading to the bridges, are shops and warehouses. Farther eastward are residences of merchants, temples, and palaces of the nobility. The Midzi, or suburbs, contain an area of about twenty-four square miles, in which are numerous fine residences and temples. The entire area of the city is about thirty-six square miles. Tokio was formerly considered to be the most populous city in the world, but it is now credited with less than two million inhabitants, and is therefore surpassed by London, New York and Paris, and probably by Chicago.
I think I was rather disappointed in what I saw of Tokyo. There are few handsome shops, no triumphal arches, no statues, no monuments ; nothing of what constitutes the beauty of the Occidental capitals. The Japanese dwellings, though extremely clean, are small, and look rather poor to American eyes. The parks and temples are interesting, but the streets are not exactly what one would expect to find in the capital city of a great and powerful empire like japan. The city is being rapidly improved, and perhaps it will one day deserve the reputation for splendor and magnificence which has been given it by some writers. The temples were much like those at Nagasaki and Osaka in their general appearance, yet they presented sufficient variation to make them, worth visiting. They help one to become acquainted with the habits, customs and religious life of the Japanese.
A journey to the beautiful town of Nikko completed my Japanese experiences, and I returned to Nagasaki to await the arrival of the ship which was to take me home. I wasn't sorry when I saw it steam into the harbor, and I waited impatiently at the landing-stage to see whether Timmie would be among those who came ashore. I knew that he would probably land in the first boat load if he were on board, and, sure enough, I discovered him waving his hat from the launch which had gone out to get the ship's laundry. We were both delighted to see one another again, and hired a jinrikisha to drive us about town, so that we could talk over our individual experiences since I left Manila.
"I have a piece of news for you," said Timmie, after we had been riding a few minutes. " What is it? " I asked, for I couldn't imagine what he could have heard that would interest me. " Your friends, the Eddy boys, are on the ship, and are going home to America," he said, " and they want us to meet them at the landing-stage at one o'clock."
A Happy Meeting
This was indeed surprising news. Howard and Kenneth had said nothing about returning to the United States for several months. I could hardly wait for one o'clock to arrive, so that I could see for myself that they were in Nagasaki, and were really going home with us. When we met them, and the greetings were over, they explained that they were going home to attend school, since their father would probably have to remain in Manila for a year or two longer. " My," exclaimed Howard, " won't we four have a jolly time across the Pacific."
We did have a jolly time. I found the Quartermaster of the transport to be an exceedingly pleasant man, and my duties as his assistant clerk were not at all difficult. We boys found plenty of time to get together, and we couldn't help contrasting conditions with those which had existed on the McClellan. We often talked over the experiences of the voyage out from New York. Some of them had been very unpleasant at the time of their occurrence, but they all seemed pleasant enough in retrospect. " I bet you'd take the whole trip over again if you had the chance," said Kenneth, one day. " I don't believe I would," was my reply. " There are parts of it which I wouldn't mind repeating, but there others that I'm willing to miss."
There was nothing very exciting about the voyage across the Pacific. There was hardly ever a, ship to be seen on all the broad expanse of water, and we sighted no land after the coast of Japan had disappeared until we saw the Golden Gate. We had the usual experience of living through an extra day in the calendar, and it was the source of much amusement on board. All vessels coming East, across the 180th meridian, add the extra day in order to equalize the time between the two hemispheres, and a number of our passengers were greatly concerned for fear that we would have two Sundays in one week. It happened, however, that we crossed the meridian on Saturday, and so we had the queer experience of going to bed on Saturday night, and rising again on Saturday morning, according to the ship's calendar.
The Extra Day
There was one dear old lady on board who insisted that there couldn't be two Saturdays in one week, and that the second one was in reality the Sabbath Day. She was horrified when she observed a game of quoits in progress on the deck. " You'll be sorry," she said, " when you reach San Francisco, and find that you were playing games on the Lord's Day."
During the rest of the voyage her calendar was all upset. According to her reckoning we held religious services on Monday, instead of on Sunday, and she insisted that we would reach San Francisco on a Tuesday. When she found by the newspapers that it was only Monday, after all, she hardly knew what to think, and probably she hasn't yet straightened the matter in her mind.
It was very easy for me to understand why the extra day was necessary. In crossing the Atlantic and in going through the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, the clock had been put forward about twenty minutes each night, while I was asleep. In this way I regularly lost a part of my sleeping-time. I figured that when I reached the Pacific I had about twenty-four hours due me in sleep, and I jokingly told the Quartermaster that I didn't expect to get out of bed on the extra day. But I worked as usual, and probably I will never regain the sleep that I lost.
We were all delighted to arrive in San Francisco, where everything is in such striking contrast to the scenes of the Orient. In the majestic harbor we looked upon a forest of masts ; tow-boats moving across the harbor, with great ships in their wake, like ants tugging at burdens thrice their size. Before us was the great city spread over the hills, house above house, steeple beyond steeple; streets crowded with cars, coaches, drays, and alive with well-dressed, well-fed, happy human beings. School-children were housed in comfortable buildings, studying their lessons. The screaming of the locomotive echoed across the bay from Oakland. In this city were to be found all comforts and luxuries; we were back again in the land of law, religion and liberty. "There's nothing like it in all the world," said Timmie, as we stood together on the deck, viewing the scene before us. " Now that I'm back, you can bet I'm going to stay awhile."