The Boy Travelers - Japan and China by Thomas W. Knox The Boy Travelers by Thomas W. Knox    

Chapter 11: An Excursion to Daibutsu and Enoshima

A favorite resort of the foreign residents of Yokohama during the summer months is the island of Enoshima. It is about twenty miles away, and is a noted place of pilgrimage for the Japanese, on account of certain shrines that are reputed to have a sacred character. Doctor Bronson arranged that his party should pay a visit to this island, as it was an interesting spot, and they could have a glimpse of Japanese life in the rural districts, and among the fishermen of the coast.
A Village on the Tōkaidō

They went thither by jinrikshas, and arranged to stop on the way to see the famous bronze statue of Daibutsu, or the Great Buddha. This statue is the most celebrated in all Japan, as it is the largest and finest in every way. Frank had heard and read about it, and when he learned from the Doctor that they were to see it on their way to Enoshima, he ran straightway to Fred to tell the good news.

"Just think of it, Fred," said he, "we are to see a statue sixty feet high, all of solid bronze, and a very old one it is, too."

"Sixty feet isn't so very much," Fred answered. "There are statues in Europe a great deal larger."

"But they were not made by the Japanese, as this one was," Frank responded, "and they are statues of figures standing erect, while this represents a sitting figure. A sitting figure sixty feet high is something you don't see every day."

Fred admitted that there might be some ground for Frank's enthusiasm, and, in fact, he was not long in sharing it, and thinking it was a very good thing that they were going to Enoshima, and intending to see Daibutsu on the way.

At the appointed time they were off. They went through the foreign part of Yokohama, and through the native quarter, and then out upon the Tōkaidō. The boys were curious to see the Tōkaidō, and when they reached it they asked the Doctor to halt the jinrikshas, and let them press their feet upon the famous work of Japanese road builders. The halt was made, and gave a few minutes' rest to the men that were drawing them, and from whose faces the perspiration was running profusely.

The Tōkaidō, or eastern road, is the great highway that connects Kyoto with Tokyo, the eastern capital with the western one. There is some obscurity in its history, but there is no doubt of its antiquity. It has been in existence some hundreds of years, and has witnessed many and many a princely procession, and many a display of Asian magnificence. It was the road by which the Daimyos of the western part of the empire made their journeys to Tokyo in the olden days, and it was equally the route by which the cortège of the Shogun went to Kyoto to render homage to the Mikado. It is a well-made road, but as it was built before the days of wheeled carriages, and when a track where two men could ride abreast was all that was considered requisite, it is narrower than most of us would expect to find it. In many places it is not easy for two carriages to pass without turning well out into the ditch, and there are places on the great route where the use of wheeled vehicles is impossible. But in spite of these drawbacks it is a fine road, and abounds in interesting sights.
A Party on the Tōkaidō

Naturally the Tōkaidō is a place of activity, and in the ages that have elapsed since it was made many villages have sprang into existence along its sides. Between Yokohama and Tokyo there is an almost continuous hedge of these villages, and there are places where you may ride for miles as along a densely filled street. From Tokyo the road follows the shore of the bay until near Yokohama, when it turns inland, but it comes to or near the sea again in several places, and affords occasional glimpses of the great water. For several years after the admission of foreigners to Japan, the Tōkaidō gave a great deal of trouble to the authorities, and figured repeatedly in the diplomatic history of the government. The most noted of these affairs was that in which an Englishman named Richardson was killed, and the government was forced to pay a heavy indemnity in consequence. A brief history of this affair may not be without interest, as it will illustrate the difficulties that arose in consequence of a difference of national customs.

Under the old laws of Japan it was the custom for the Daimyos to have a very complete right of way whenever their trains were out upon the Tōkaidō or any other road. If any native should ride or walk into a Daimyo's procession, or even attempt anything of the kind, they would be put to death immediately by the attendants of the prince. This was the invariable rule, and had been in force for hundreds of years. When the foreigners first came to Yokohama, the Daimyos' processions were frequently on the road, and, as the strangers had the right to go into the country, and consequently to ride on the Tōkaidō, there was a constant fear that some of them would ignorantly or willfully violate the ancient usages and thus lead the Daimyos' followers to use their swords.

Things were in this condition when one day (September 14th, 1862) the procession of Shimadzu Saburo, father of the last Daimyo of Satsuma, was passing along the Tōkaidō on its way from the capital to the western part of the empire. Through fear of trouble in case of an encounter with the train of this prince, the authorities had previously requested foreigners not to go upon the Tōkaidō that day, but the request was refused, and a party of English people, three gentlemen and a lady, embraced the opportunity to go out that particular afternoon to meet the prince's train. Two American gentlemen were out that afternoon, and encountered the same train. They politely turned aside to allow the procession to pass, and were not disturbed.
Beginning of Relations Between England and Japan

When the English party met the train, the lady and one of the gentlemen suggested that they should stand at the side of the road, but Mr. Richardson urged his horse forward and said, "Come on. I have lived fourteen years in China, and know how to manage these people." He rode into the midst of the procession, and was followed by the other gentlemen, or partially so. The lady, in her terror, remained by the side of the road, as she had wished to do at the outset. The guards construed the movements of Mr. Richardson as a direct insult to their master, and fell upon him with their swords. The three men were severely wounded. Mr. Richardson died in less than half an hour, but the others recovered. The lady was not harmed in any way. On the one hand, the Japanese were a proud race who resented an insult to their prince, and punished it according to Japanese law and custom. On the other, the foreigners had the technical right, in accordance with the treaty, to go upon the Tōkaidō, but they offered a direct insult to the people in whose country they were, and openly showed their contempt for them. A little forbearance, and a willingness to avoid trouble by refraining from visiting the Tōkaidō, as requested by the Japanese authorities, would have prevented the sad occurrence.

As a result of this affair, the Japanese government was compelled to pay a hundred thousand pounds sterling to the family of Mr. Richardson, or submit to the alternative of a war with England. In addition to this, the city of Kagoshima, the residence of the Prince of Satsuma, was bombarded, the place reduced to ashes, forts, palaces, factories, thrown into ruins, and thousands of buildings set on fire by the shells from the British fleet. Three steamers belonging to the Prince of Satsuma were captured, and the prince was further compelled to pay an additional indemnity of twenty-five thousand pounds. The loss of life in the affair has never been made known by the Japanese, but it is certain to have been very great. It would not be surprising if the Japanese should entertain curious notions of the exact character of the Christian religion, when such acts are perpetrated by the nations that profess it. The blessings of civilization have been wafted to them in large proportion from the muzzles of cannon, and the light of Western diplomacy has been, all too frequently, from the torch of the incendiary.
Pilgrims on the Road

But we must not forget our boys in our dissertation on the history of foreign intervention in Japan. In fact, they were not forgotten in it, as they heard the story from the Doctor's lips, and heard a great deal more besides. The Doctor summarized his opinion of the way the Japanese had been treated by foreigners somewhat as follows:

"The Japanese had been exclusive for a long time, and wished to continue so. They had had an experience of foreign relations two hundred years ago, and the result had well-nigh cost them their independence. It was unsatisfactory, and they chose to shut themselves up and live alone. If we wanted to shut up the United States, and admit no foreigners among us, we should consider it a matter of great rudeness if they forced themselves in, and threatened to bombard us when we refused them admittance. We were the first to poke our noses into Japan, when we sent Commodore Perry here with a fleet. The Japanese tried their best to induce us to go away and let them alone, but we wouldn't go. We stood there with the copy of the treaty in one hand, and had the other resting on a cannon charged to the muzzle and ready to fire. We said, 'Take the one or the other. Sign a treaty of peace and goodwill and accept the blessings of civilization, or we will blow you so high in the air that the pieces won't come down for a week.' Japan was convinced when she saw that resistance would be useless, and quite against her wishes she entered the family of nations. We opened the way and then England followed, and then came the other nations. We have done less robbing and bullying than England has, in our interactions with Japan, and the Japanese like us better in consequence. But if it is a correct principle that no man should be disturbed so long as he does not disturb anyone else, and does no harm, the outside nations had no right to interfere with Japan, and compel her to open her territory to them."

This conversation occurred while they were halted under some venerable shade trees by the side of the Tōkaidō, and were looking at the people that passed. Every few minutes they saw groups varying from two to six or eight persons, very thinly clad, and having the appearance of wayfarers with a small stock of money, or none at all. The Doctor explained that these men were pilgrims on their way to holy places, some of them were doubtless bound for Enoshima, some for Hakone, and some for the great mountain which every now and then the turns in the road revealed to the eyes of the travelers. These pilgrimages have a religious character, and are made by thousands of persons every year. One member of a party usually carries a small bell, and as they walk along its faint tinkle gives notice of their religious character, and practically warns others that they are not commercially inclined, as they are without more money than is actually needed for the purposes of their journey. They wear broad hats to protect them from the sun, and their garments, usually of white material, are stamped with mystic characters to symbolize the particular divinity in whose honor the journey is made.
Threshing Grain

Village after village was passed by our young adventurers and their older companion, and many scenes of Japanese domestic life were unfolded to their eyes. At one place some men were engaged in removing the hulls from freshly gathered rice. The grain was in large tubs, made of a section of a tree hollowed out, and the labor was performed by beating the grain with huge mallets. The process was necessarily slow, and required a great deal of patience. This mode of hulling rice has been in use in Japan for hundreds of years, and will probably continue for hundreds of years to come in spite of the improved machinery that is being introduced by foreigners. Rice is the principal article of food used in Japan, and many people have hardly tasted anything else in the whole course of their lives. The opening of the foreign market has largely increased the cost of rice, and in this way the entrance of Japan into the family of nations has brought great hardships upon the laborers. It costs three times as much for a poor man to support his family as it did before the advent of the strangers, and there has not been a corresponding advance in wages. Life for the indentured servant was bad enough under the old form of government, and he had much to complain of. His condition has not been improved by the new order of things, according to the observation of impartial foreigners who reside in Yokohama and other of the open ports.

About ten miles out from Yokohama the party turned from the Tōkaidō, and took a route through the fields. They found the track rather narrow in places, and on one occasion, when they met a party in jinrikshas, it became necessary to step to the ground to allow the vehicles to be lifted around. Then, too, there had been a heavy rain, the storm that cut short their visit to Tokyo, and in some places the road had been washed out so that they were obliged to walk around the breaks. Their journey was consequently somewhat retarded, but they did not mind the detention, and had taken such an early start that they had plenty of time to reach Enoshima before dark. They met groups of Japanese peasants returning home from their work, and in every instance the latter made way for the strangers, and stood politely by the roadside as the man-power carriages went rolling by. Frank wanted to make sketches of some of the groups, and was particularly attracted by a woman who was carrying a teapot in one hand and a small roll or bundle under her other arm. By her side walked a man carrying a couple of buckets slung from a pole, after the fashion so prevalent in Japan and China. He steadied the pole with his hands, and seemed quite indifferent to the presence of the foreigners. Both were dressed in loosely fitting garments, and their feet were shod with sandals of straw. The Japanese sandal is held in place by two thongs that start from near the heel on each side and come together in front. The wearer inserts the thong between the great toe and its neighbor. When he is barefooted this operation is easily performed, and, in order to accommodate his stockinged feet to the sandal, the Japanese stocking has a separate place for the "thumb-toe," as one of them called the largest of his "foot-fingers." The foot of the Japanese stocking closely resembles the mitten of America, which young women in certain localities are said to present to discarded admirers.
A Japanese Sandal

The road wound among the fields where the rice was growing luxuriantly, and where now and then they found beans and millet, and other products of Japanese agriculture. The cultivation was evidently of the most careful character, as the fields were cut here and there with little channels for irrigation, and there were frequent deposits of fertilizing materials, whose character was apparent to the nose before it was to the eye. In some places, where the laborers were stooping to weed the plants, there was little more of them visible than their broad sunhats, and it did not require a great stretch of the imagination to believe they were a new kind of mushroom from Brobdingnagian gardens. Hills like sharply rounded cones rose from each side of the narrow valley they were descending, and the dense growth of wood with which the most of them were covered made a marked contrast to the thoroughly cleared fields. The boys saw over, and over, and over again the pictures they had often seen on Japanese fans and boxes and wondered if they were realities. They had already learned that the apparently impossible pictures we find in Japanese art are not only possible, but actual, but they had not yet seen so thorough a confirmation of it as on this day's ride.

Several times they came suddenly upon villages, and very often these discoveries were quite unexpected. As they rode along the valley narrowed, and the hills became larger and denserly covered with trees. By-and-by they halted at a wayside teahouse, and were told to leave the little carriages and rest awhile. Frank protested that he was not in need of any rest, but he changed his mind when the Doctor told him that they had reached one of the objects of their journey, and that he would miss an interesting sight if he kept on. They were at the shrine of Daibutsu (giant Buddha).

They went up an avenue between two rows of trees, and right before them was the famous statue. It was indeed a grand work of art.
The Great Buddha

Frank made a careful note of the figures indicating the height of the statue. He found that the whole structure, including the pedestal, measured sixty feet from the ground to the top of the head, and that the figure alone was forty-three feet high. It was in a sitting posture, with the hands partly folded and turned upwards, with the knuckles touching each other. The eyes were closed, and there was an expression of calm repose on the features such as one rarely sees in statuary. There was something very grand and impressive in this towering statue, and the boys gazed upon it with unfeigned admiration.

Fred asked if the statue was cast in a single piece. But after asking the question, he looked up and saw that the work was evidently done in sections, as the lines where the plates or sections were joined were plainly visible. But the plates were large, and the operation of making the statue was one that required the handling of some very heavy pieces. In many places the statue was covered with inscriptions, which are said to be of a religious character.

The figure was hollow, and there was a sort of chapel inside where devout pilgrims were permitted to worship. On the platform in front there were several shrines, and the general surroundings of the place were well calculated to remind one of a sanctuary of Roman Catholicism. Thousands and thousands of pilgrims have come from all parts of Japan to worship at the feet of the great Buddha, and while our friends stood in front of the shrine, a group of devotees arrived and reverently said their prayers.

A little way off from Daibutsu are the temples of Kamakura, which are celebrated for their sanctity, and are the objects of much veneration. They are not unlike the other temples of Japan in general appearance, but the carvings and bronze ornamentations are unusually rich, and must have cost a great deal of money. There was once a large city at Kamakura, and traces of it are distinctly visible. The approach to the temples is over some stone bridges, crossing a moat that must have been a formidable defense in the days before gunpowder was introduced into warfare.

After their sightseeing in the grove of Daibutsu was over, the party proceeded to Enoshima. When they arrived at the seashore opposite the island, they found, to their dismay, that the tide was up, and they were obliged to hire a boat to take them to their destination. At low tide one can walk upon a sandbar the entire distance, but when the sea is at its highest, the bar is covered, and walking is not practicable. The beach slopes very gradually, and consequently the boats were at some distance out, and the travelers were compelled to wade to them or be carried on men's shoulders. The boys tried the wading, and were successful. The Doctor, more dignified, was carried on the shoulders of a stout Japanese, who was very glad of the opportunity to earn a few pennies. But he came near having a misadventure, as his bearer stumbled when close to the edge of the boat, and pitched the Doctor headlong into the craft. He was landed among a lot of baskets and other baggage, and his hat came in unpleasant contact with a bucket containing some freshly caught fish. Luckily he suffered no injury, and was able to join the others in laughing over the incident.
The Bow of the Proprietor

On their arrival at the island, it was again necessary to wade to the shore. Frank found the slippery rocks such insecure footing that he went down into the water, but was not completely immersed. The others got ashore safely, and it was unanimously voted that the next time they came to Enoshima they would endeavor to arrive when the tide was out. An involuntary bath, before one is properly dressed, or undressed, for it, is no more to be desired in Japan than in any other country.

A street leads up from the water towards the center of the island, and along this street are the principal houses of the town. The most of these houses are hotels for the accommodation of the numerous pilgrims that come to the sacred shrines of Enoshima, and, as our party approached, there was a movement among the attendants of the nearest hostelry to invite the strangers to enter. They halted at the door of a large building on the left. The proprietor was just inside the entrance, and bowed to them in true Japanese style, with his head touching the floor. He not only bowed to the party in general, but to each one of them separately, and it took two or three minutes to go through with the preliminaries of politeness and begin negotiations for the desired accommodations.

In a little while all was arranged to the satisfaction of everybody concerned, and our friends were installed in a Japanese inn. What they did there, and what they saw, will be made known in the next chapter.

    The Boy Travelers - Japan and China by Thomas W. Knox The Boy Travelers by Thomas W. Knox    

Chapter 11: An Excursion to Daibutsu and Enoshima


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read and/or listen to the chapter.
  • Review the vocabulary terms.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


Enoshima: A small island in Japan.
Daibutsu: A large statue of Buddha.
Tōkaidō: An important historical route in Japan that connected the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto.
Pilgrim: A traveler, especially to religious sites.
Treaty: A formal agreement between two or more states.
Thresh: To separate the grain from the straw or husks (chaff) by mechanical beating, with a flail or machinery.


Activity 1: Narrate the Chapter

  • Narrate the events aloud in your own words.

Activity 2: Study the Chapter Pictures

  • Study the chapter pictures and describe how each relates to the story.

Activity 3: Observe the Modern Equivalent

  • Examine the chapter setting in modern times: A view of Enoshima island, Japan.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

  • Find the country of Japan on the map of the world.
  • Find the Japanese capital city of Tokyo.
  • Find the island of Enoshima (lower left-hand side).

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

  • Repeat the mapwork from Activity 4 on a three-dimensional globe.