CHAPTER XX. KIOTO, LATE MIACO.
Manners with fortunes, humours change with climes,
Tenets with books, and principles with times.
Saturday, February 3rd. - The occasional glimpses of the coast scenery through the sleet and snow were very fine. We passed Rocky Island, Lady Inglis rocks, and Matoya. But Mabelle and I spent most of the day in bed; she suffering from a blow from the boom, which had produced slight concussion of the brain, and I having a wretched cold, which has been gradually getting worse the last few days, and which has quite taken away my voice.
Sunday, February 4th. - It was blowing hard all day, raining, snowing, and sleeting. The scenery appeared to be pretty, and we passed through crowds of picturesque junks.
At 4.25 we rounded Tomamgai Smia, and at 9 p.m. anchored off the town of Kobe, or Hiogo.
These constant changes of names are very puzzling. Miaco and Yeddo, which we did know something about, are quite cut out, and replaced by Kioto and Tokio. Oddly enough, the same syllables, reversed, mean capital of the Western Empire and capital of the Eastern Empire respectively.
Monday, February 5th. - By seven o'clock a boat was alongside with letters from the Consul and Sir Harry Parkes, who had kindly made all the necessary arrangements for us to see the opening of the railway from Kobe to Kioto, and for the presentation of the gentlemen to the Mikado.
It certainly was a great opportunity for seeing a Japanese holiday crowd, all dressed in their best. Thousands and thousands of people were in the streets, who, though naturally anxious to see as much as possible, behaved in the most quiet and orderly manner. The station was beautifully decorated with evergreens, camellias, and red berries. Outside there was a most marvellous pavilion, the woodwork of which had been entirely covered with evergreens, and ornamented with life-size dragons and phoenixes (the imperial insignia of Japan), all made in flowers. The roof was studded with large chrysanthemums - the private device of the Mikado, that of the Tycoon being three hollyhock leaves. The sides of the pavilion were quite open, the roof being simply supported on pillars; so that we could see everything that went on, both inside and out. The floor was covered with red cloth; the dais with an extremely ugly Brussels carpet, with a large pattern. On this the Mikado's throne was placed, with a second canopy above it. Tom in R.N.R. uniform, the other gentlemen in evening dress, accompanied the Consul on to the platform to receive the Mikado; while the children and I went with Mrs. Annesley to seats reserved for the foreign representatives. There were not many Europeans present; but the platform was densely crowded with Japanese, sitting on their heels, and patiently waiting to see the extraordinary sight of their hitherto invisible spiritual Emperor brought to them by a steam engine on an iron road. The men had all had their heads fresh shaven, and their funny little pigtails rearranged for the occasion. The women's hair was elaborately and stiffly done up with light tortoiseshell combs and a large pin, and decorated with artificial flowers. Some of the children were gaily dressed in red and gold under garments, the prevailing colour of the costumes being dark blue, turned up with red. They also wore gay embroidered obis, or large sashes, which are put on in a peculiar fashion. They are of great width, and are fastened tightly round the waist, while an enormous bow behind reaches from between the shoulders to far below the hips. The garments fit tightly in front, while at the back they form a sort of huge bunch. On their high-heeled clogs the women walk with precisely the same gait as ladies in high-heeled boots. In fact, so exactly do the Japanese women (you never see Japanese ladies walking about in the streets) caricature the present fashionable style of dress in Europe, that I have formed a theory of my own on the subject, and this is it.
Some three or four years ago, among other proposed reforms in Japan, the Ministers wished the Empress and her Court to be dressed in European fashion. Accordingly a French milliner and dressmaker, with her assistants, was sent for from Paris, and in due time arrived. The Empress and her ladies, however, would not change their style of dress. They knew better what suited them, and in my opinion they were very sensible. This is what I hear. Now what I think is, that the Parisienne, being of an enterprising turn of mind, thought that she would not take so long a journey for nothing - that if the Japanese ladies would not follow European fashions, at least European ladies should adopt the Japanese style. On her return to Paris I am convinced that she promulgated this idea, and gradually gave it effect. Hence the fashions of the last two years.
Watching the crowd occupied the time in a most interesting manner, till the firing of guns and the playing of bands announced the arrival of the imperial train. The Mikado was received on the platform, and after a very short delay he headed the procession along the covered way on to the dais.