On the 22nd, the gale having abated, they let out the reefs of the topsails and made more sail. At noon they were in latitude 40 58', and longitude 148 17', and two small land birds being taken on board, plainly indicated they could not be any great distance from the land; they therefore hauled up to the west-north-west, in which direction the southernmost islands seen by Spanberg, and said to be inhabited by hairy men, lay at the distance of about fifty leagues. They saw several other signs of land; but, on the 24th, the wind shifted to the north, and blew a fresh gale, so that they finally gave up all further search for islands to the north of Japan, and shaped their course west-south-west, for the north part of that island.
On the 26th, at daybreak, they descried high land to the westward, which proved to be Japan. The country consisted of a double range of mountains; it abounded with wood, and had a pleasing variety of hills and dales. They saw the smoke of several towns, and many houses near the shore, in pleasant and cultivated situations. They stood off and on, according as the weather permitted them, till the 28th in the afternoon, when they lost sight of the land, and from its breaking off so suddenly, they conjectured that what they had before seen was a cluster of islands, lying off the main land of Japan. The next day they saw land again, eleven leagues to the southward. The coast appeared straight and unbroken; towards the sea it was low, but rose gradually into hills of a moderate height, whose tops were tolerably even, and covered with wood.
At nine o'clock, the wind shifting to the southward, they tacked and stood off to the east, and soon after they saw a vessel close in with the land, standing along shore to the northward, and another in the offing, coming down before the wind. Objects of any kind, belonging to a country so famous and yet so little known, excited a general curiosity, and every soul on board was upon deck in an instant, to gaze at them. The vessel to windward passed ahead of them at the distance of about half a mile. It would have been easy to have spoken with her; but perceiving, by her manoeuvres, that she was much frightened, Captain Gore was not willing to augment her terrors, and thinking that they should have many better opportunities of communicating with the Japanese, suffered her to go off without interruption. There appeared to be about six men on board, and, according to the best conjectures that could be formed, the vessel was about forty tons burden. She had but one mast, on which was hoisted a square sail, extended by a yard aloft, the braces of which worked forward. Halfway down the sail came three pieces of black cloth, at equal distances from each other. The vessel was higher at each end than in the midship, and from her appearance and form she did not appear to be able to sail otherwise than large.
Soon after the wind increased so much, that our navigators were reduced to their courses; and the sea ran as high as any one on board ever remembered to have seen it. If the Japenese vessels are, as Kaempfer describes them, open in the stern, it would not have been possible for those they saw to have survived the fury of the storm; but as the appearance of the weather, all the preceding part of the day, foretold its coming, and one of the sloops had, notwithstanding, stood far out to sea, it was concluded they were perfectly capable of bearing a gale of wind.
Our navigators were blown off the land by this gale, but on the 30th they saw it again, at the distance of about fifteen leagues, appearing in detached parts, but it could not be determined whether they were small islands, or parts of Japan.
On the 1st of November, they saw a number of Japanese vessels close in with the land, several seemingly engaged in fishing, and others standing along shore. They discovered to the westward a remarkably high mountain, with a round top, rising far inland. As this was the most remarkable hill on the coast, they wished to have settled its situation exactly; but only having had a single view, they were obliged to be contented with such accuracy as their circumstances would allow.
Its latitude was reckoned to be 35 20', and its longitude 140 26'.
As the Dutch charts made the coast of Japan extend about ten leagues to the south-west of White Paint (supposed to be the southernmost land then in sight) our navigators stood off to the eastward, to weather the point. At midnight they again tacked, expecting to fall in with the land to the southward, but were surprised to find, in the morning, that during eight hours, in which they supposed they had made a course of nine leagues to the south-west, they had in reality been carried eight leagues in a direction diametrically opposite. Whence they calculated that the current had set to the north-east by north, at the rate of at least five miles an hour.
On the 3rd of November, they were again blown off the land by a heavy gale, and found themselves upwards of fifty leagues off, which circumstances, together with the extraordinary effect of the currents they had experienced, the late season of the year, the unsettled state of the weather, and the little likelihood of any change for the better, made Captain Gore resolve to leave Japan altogether, and proceed in the voyage for China.
On the 4th and 5th, our navigators, continuing their course to the south-east, passed great quantities of pumice-stone. These stones appeared to have been thrown into the sea by eruptions of various dates, as many of them were covered with barnacles, and others quite bare.