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To board a train after our long sea-trip was a delightful change. After passing through quaint villages, rice fields, and interesting garden patches we arrived at Tokyo in time for the ambassador's reception. The moment one talks to Charles Warren, in charge of our American Embassy in Japan, one feels that our Japanese problems are in very conservative and capable hands.
Between receptions, we visited many quaint and beautiful temples. At one we were so hospitably received, served with tea and dainty rice cakes made with a special emblem upon them for the occasion that we forgot to grumble about being made to remove our shoes. Only a few of the party remembered the Japanese custom of removing the outer foot-gear, when entering their temples, and came prepared with easily removed pumps. They had a good laugh at the row of dignified, badge-bedecked representatives, solemnly lacing up their shoes, while sitting on the stoop about a foot from the ground, with the blazing sun upon them.
When we talked to some of the American residents in Japan, they all got on the old familiar subject, the high cost of living, but they seem to agree that it cost just twice as much to live in Japan as any other place in the world. It seems that without considering the high rent, an amah (a sort of maid who will do only certain duties), a house boy (who is anywhere from twelve to sixty years old), and a cook (who gets a commission on everything you buy) must be kept, even in the simplest of homes. Those accustomed to one servant in America usually find it necessary to have from three to six in Japan. Of course their wages are less than in the United States, but food is very high. Rice, for instance, was twenty percent higher than in America. Inferior coal was twenty-two fifty a ton, and the high ceilinged, furnace less houses require a great deal of coal and wood in winter. Very few Americans use the jammed street cars. Automobiles are very expensive to maintain, not only on account of the rough streets, but the licenses are very high. One of our party hired a rick-shaw for twenty minutes and paid a yen (about fifty cents), so residents usually find it more economical to keep their own rick-shaws and coolies.
Certainly the Japanese are past masters in entertaining. No wonder it is said that some of our former diplomats were so much influenced by their lavish entertainment's that they lost their heads. The Chamber of Commerce of Tokyo greeted our Chamber of Commerce representatives at an elaborate theatre party. An especially staged Japanese drama, followed by a comedy, with a sumptuous dinner between the acts, was only a part of the entertainment. A. I. Esberg and Byron Mauzy answered the banzis, of the oldest merchant in Japan, Baron Okura, with three rousing cheers for the Japanese, after the formal addresses had been made.
Everywhere we were met with politeness and courtesy. To the casual observer the military element is not noticeable in the home life of the common people, as they are rapt in their work, very industrious and get their pleasure talking to their ever present babies, or tending some little plants, even if squalor surrounds them. But the word of the ones higher up is absolute law to them. Discipline is supreme from the time the small boy is taught the "Goose Step," preparatory to his military training, until he obediently marries the girl his parents have selected for him. He does what he is told without a murmur, as does his wife who is his absolute slave.
One understands why some call Japan the Germany of the East, which country, some of our delegates were told by foreign residents, Japan greatly admires. It is said that her people were more than surprised and disappointed when the armistice was signed; as the Japanese press was so well censored it gave no indication that Germany could be defeated.
After a day of sight-seeing, and investigating various trade conditions, our party found the rickshaw ride back to the hotel, at dusk, most interesting and quite exciting, if one has not become accustomed to the rule of turning to the left instead of the right, as we do at home. Packed street cars, automobiles, carts piled high with incredible loads pulled by coolies, a girder being dragged by a scrawny horse led by a seemingly tireless, whip-equipped native, all apparently were about to collide with our rick-shaw party. We seemed to be always in the way and always on the wrong side of the street. We remembered with a shudder, that the Japanese believe it noble to die, and seemingly, they were going to drag us to destruction with them. We tried to get them to go slower but could not think of the Japanese words, so we might just as well have tried to stop the North wind, as to have changed the orders given by our interpreter to the coolies.