Time was going on, and it became necessary that our travelers should follow its example. The Doctor engaged places for them by the steamer for Kobe, the port for the western capital of Japan, and at the appointed time they went on board. Before their departure, they had an opportunity to visit one of the tea-packing establishments for which Yokohama is famous, and the process they witnessed there was of special interest to the boys. Here is the account that Frank gave of it in his next letter home:
A Village in the Tea District

"The Japanese tea is brought from the country to the seaports in large boxes. It is partially dried when it is picked, but not enough to preserve it for a long sea voyage. When it gets here, it is delivered to the large establishments that make a business of shipping teas to America, and let me say, by the way, that nearly all the tea of Japan that is exported goes to America, and hardly any of it to any other country. When we went into the warehouse, they call it a 'go-down,' from a Hindustani word, they showed us a room where there were probably a hundred bushels of tea in a great pile on the floor. Men were at work mixing it up with shovels, and the clerk who showed us around said that they spread all the tea out in layers, one over the other, and then mixed them up. He said it was a very difficult job to have the teas properly mixed, so that the samples should be perfectly even.

"We saw lots of tea in another room where the same kind of work was going on, and then they took us to the firing-room, and it was a firing-room, you may believe.
Tea Merchants in the Interior

"It was like a great shed, and it had the solid ground for a floor. On this floor there were kettles, or pans, set in brickwork, and each one of them had a little furnace under it, in which there was a charcoal fire. There must have been two hundred of these pans, and the heat from them was so great that it almost took away my breath. I don't believe I could exist there a day, and yet there were people who had to spend the entire day in the firing-room, and go there day after day besides. Many of them were women, and some of them had little children strapped to their backs, and there was a whole lot of children in a little room at one side of the shed, where a couple of women were looking after them. How I did pity the poor things! Fred and I just emptied our pockets of all the small change we could find in them for the benefit of the babies, and I wish we could have given them more. But there was hardly a cry from any of them, and they seemed as happy and contented as though their mothers were queens, instead of toiling over the firing-pan in that hot room for ten or fifteen cents a day.

"They put a pound and a half of tea into each pan, and with it they put a teaspoonful of some coloring substance that they keep a secret. People say that this coloring matter is Prussian blue, and others say it is indigo, and that a little gypsum is put with it, so as to give the tea a bright appearance. The clerk told us it was indigo and gypsum that his house used, and declared that it was all false that any poisonous material was ever put in. He said they only used a teaspoonful of their mixture to a charge of tea, and the most of that little quantity was left in the pan in the shape of dust. When I asked him why they put anything in, he said it was to make the tea sell better in the American market. It looked so much better when it had been 'doctored' that their customers in New York and other cities would pay more for it, though they knew perfectly well what had been done. Then he showed me some of the tea that had been fired and put side by side with some that had not. I must say that the fired tea had a polished appearance that the other had not, and I could readily understand why it sells better.
The Tea Plant

"As I have said, they put a charge of a pound and a half of tea into the pan with a teaspoonful of the mixture, and they have a fire of charcoal beneath it. The man or woman that does the firing stands in front of the pan and keeps the tea in constant motion. It must be kept moving all the time, so that it will not be scorched, and it must be gently rubbed between the fingers in order to polish it. It is kept in the pan eighty minutes, and then is considered dry enough for the packing-cases.

"You know how a tea chest looks, so I need not describe it anymore than to say that the chest is lined with tin, and that the tin is carefully soldered, so that not a single particle of dampness can get in while the tea is on the ocean. If it should, the tea would be spoiled, as the least dampness will injure it, and a great deal will make it quite useless. They always try to hurry the new crop of tea as rapidly as they can, since it is the best, and has more and better flavor than the crop of the previous year. When a ship sails with new tea, she races for home as hard as she can go, and the quickest voyages ever made from this part of the world to Europe and America have been made by ships with cargoes of new tea."
Firing Tea

When the party sailed from Yokohama, they found themselves on board a steamer which was, and was not, Japanese. She was built in New York, and formerly ran between that city and Aspinwall. Subsequently she was sent to Japan in the service of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and was sold, along with several other American steamers, to a Japanese company. This company was formed with Japanese capital, and its management was Japanese, but the ships were foreign, and the officers and engineers were mostly English or American.

The Doctor told the boys that the Mitsu Bishi Company, as this Japanese organization was called, was increasing every year the number of its ships. It received assistance from the government in the form of a mail contract, and was evidently doing very well. The steamers ran once a week each way between Yokohama and Shanghai, touching at Kobe and Nagasaki, and there were lines to other ports of Japan. The Japanese were studying naval architecture and making good progress, and they hoped before many years to construct their own ships. Every year they reduced the number of foreigners in their service, and some of their establishments were entirely under native management.
Hiogo (Kobe)

The second morning after leaving Yokohama, they were at Kobe, and the steamer anchored off the town. Kobe and Hiogo are practically one and the same place. The Japanese city that stands there was formerly known as Hiogo, and still retains that name, while the name of Kobe was applied to that portion where the foreigners reside. The view from the water is quite pretty, as there is a line of mountains just back of the city, and as the boys looked intently they could see that the mountains were inhabited. There are several neat little houses on the side of the hills, some of them the residences of the foreigners who go there to get the cool air, while the rest are the homes of the Japanese. There is a liberal allowance of teahouses where the public can go to be refreshed, and there is a waterfall where a mountain stream comes rattling down from the rocks to a deep pool, where groups of bathers are sure to congregate in fine weather. The town stands on a level plain, where a point juts into the water, and there is nothing remarkable about it. If they had not seen Yokohama and Tokyo, they might have found it interesting, but after those cities the boys were not long in agreeing that a short time in Kobe would be all they would wish.

But they were at the port of Osaka and Kyoto, and their thoughts were turned towards those important cities. There was no difficulty in going there, as the railway was in operation to Osaka, twenty miles, and to Kyoto, thirty miles farther on. But Frank was seized with an idea, which he lost no time in communicating to his friends. It was this:

"We can travel by rail almost anywhere," said he, "and needn't come away from America to do so. Now, instead of going to Osaka by rail, which wouldn't be anything remarkable, suppose we go by a Japanese junk. I have been asking the hotelkeeper about it, and he says it is perfectly easy to do so, and that we can sail there with a fair wind in a few hours."

Fred was in favor of the junk voyage on account of its novelty. Of course, the Doctor was not likely to oppose any reasonable scheme that would give his young companions an opportunity to learn something, provided it did not consume too much time. Inquiry showed that the voyage could be made there with a fair wind, as Frank had suggested, and, as the wind happened to be all right and promised to continue, it was agreed to go by junk on the following morning, provided there were no change.
The Junk at Anchor

A Japanese servant, who spoke English, was engaged from the hotel to accompany the party during their journey. He was sent to find a junk that was about to leave for Osaka, and in half an hour he returned with the captain of one. It was soon settled that he was to bring his craft to the anchorage near the hotel during the afternoon, and be ready to receive his passengers and their luggage at daylight if the wind held good. The servant, who said he was named "John" by the first European that ever employed him, and had stuck to it ever since, was kept busy during the afternoon in making preparations for the journey, as it was necessary to take a stock of provisions very much as the party had equipped themselves when they went to ascend Mount Fuji. Everything was arranged in time, and the trio went to bed early, as it would be necessary to rise before the sun, and they wanted to lay in a good supply of sleep.

The junk was ready in the morning, and as soon as the passengers were on board, her sail was lifted, and she slowly worked her way through the water. The wind was all right for the voyage to the mouth of the river where Osaka lay, and if they had been on a sail-boat such as all New Yorkers are familiar with, the journey would have been over in three or four hours. But the junk was not built for racing purposes, and the most that could be hoped for from her was a speed of about three miles an hour. This was no detriment, as they could thus make the mouth of the river by noon, and if the bar could be easily crossed, they would be at the city long before sunset. Life on a junk was a novelty, and therefore they were not annoyed to think that their craft was not a swift one.
The Helmsman at His Post

Fred thought that the stern of the junk was about the funniest thing in the way of a steering-place he had ever seen, and to make sure of remembering it, he made a sketch of the helmsman at his post. Frank insisted that he was not there at all, as his post was evidently the rudder-post, and it was at least ten feet off, owing to the length of the tiller. The deck where the man stood had a slope like that of a house-roof, and it was a mystery to the boys how the sailors could stand there when the planks were wet by the spray, or the sea was at all rough. But there was no denying that they did stay there, and so the boys concluded that the men must have claws on their feet like those with which a tiger is equipped. Fred remarked that the steep incline reminded him of a conundrum he had somewhere heard, which was as follows:

"Why is a dog with a broken leg like the space between the eaves and the ridge of a house?"

Frank could not answer, and the question was propounded to Dr. Bronson. The latter shook his head, and then Fred responded, in triumph, "Because he is a slow pup." It was three seconds at least before Frank could see the point of the joke.
Japanese Sailors at Dinner

The boys had too much to do in the way of sightseeing to spend more time over conundrums. They proceeded to explore the interior of the junk, and to look about the decks in the hope of finding something new in the way of navigation. They discovered that there was considerable space for the stowage of cargo, in consequence of the great width of the craft in proportion to her length. The accommodations of the crew were not extensive, but as they did not expect much, they were not likely to complain. As the boys were near the bow of the junk, they came upon two of the sailors at dinner. The meal consisting of rice and fish, which they ate with the aid of chopsticks. The men were squatted on the deck in front of their food, or rather they had the food in front of themselves, and they evidently were the possessors of good appetites, to judge by the eagerness with which they attended to business and paid no heed to the strangers.

The Japanese are excellent sailors, both on their junks and on the foreign ships that have been introduced to their service since the opening of the country to other nations. But the Japanese landsman has a horror of the water, and cannot be induced to venture upon it. In this respect the Japanese are not unlike the Italians, who are naturally a maritime nation, and have covered themselves with marine glory in times that are past. But the Italian landsman is ready to suffer any inconvenience rather than risk himself on the ocean, and not a more woe-begone being can be found in the world than a seasick Italian unless it be a seasick Japanese.

The sailors on the junk were very prompt in obeying orders, but they went about everything with an air of coolness which one does not always see on an American vessel. Ordinarily they pulled at ropes as though they would not hurt either the ropes or themselves, but it was observed that when the captain gave an order for anything, there was no attempt at shirking. One of the sailors stood at the sheet of the mainsail, and while he held on and waited for directions his mate was quietly smoking and seated on the deck. When the order came for changing the position of the sail, the pipe was instantly dropped and the work was attended to. When the work was over, the pipe was resumed as if nothing had happened. Evidently, the sailors were not much affected by the fashions that the foreigners had introduced, for they were all dressed in the costume that prevailed previous to the treaty of Commodore Perry, and before a single innovation had been made in the way of navigation. The captain of the junk looked with disdain upon a steamer that was at anchor not far from where his craft was obliged to pass, and evidently he had no very high opinion of the invention. He was content with things as they were, and the ship that had borne his ancestors in safety was quite good enough for him and his comrades.
View from the Hotel

About six hours after the departure from Kobe, the junk reached the bar of the river on which Osaka is situated. The bar was passed, and then the unwieldy concern came to anchor to wait for a stronger breeze. At the advice of John a rowboat was engaged to finish the journey as far as the hotel where they were to stop. The rowboat was rapidly propelled by the strong arms of half a dozen men, and in less than two hours from the time they said "Sayonara" to the captain of their transport, the Doctor and his young friends were safely lodged in the house where their rooms had been previously engaged by letter. In a short time dinner was ready, and they had it served on a little balcony which overlooked the water, and gave them an opportunity to study the river life of the city while they devoured the stewed chicken and juicy steaks that the host had provided for them. Boats passed and repassed, and there was a good deal of animation on the stream. Just beyond the hotel there was a bridge which curved like a quarter of a circle, as Fred thought, and beyond it was another of similar construction. Crowds of people were coming and going over these bridges, and Frank ventured to ask the Doctor if there were any more bridges and any more people in Osaka.

"Certainly, my boy," the Doctor answered, "there are thirteen rivers and canals in Osaka, so that the city has an abundance of water communication. The streets are generally at right angles, and there are more than a hundred bridges over the waterways. From this circumstance Osaka has received the name of the Venice of Japan, and she certainly deserves it. Formerly her commerce by water was very great, and you would see a large fleet of junks in the river below the town. The opening of the railway to Kobe has somewhat diminished the traffic by water, but it is still quite extensive, and employs a goodly amount of capital.

"Osaka is one of the most important cities of Japan," Dr. Bronson continued, "and has long been celebrated for its commercial greatness. If you look at its position on the map, you will see that it is admirably situated to command trade both by land and by water, and when I tell you that it contains half a million of inhabitants, you will understand that it must have had prosperity to make it so great. The streets are of good width, and they are kept cleaner than those of most other cities in Japan. The people are very proud of Osaka, and are as tender of its reputation as the inhabitants of any Western city in America are tender of theirs. There are not so many temples as in Tokyo, and not so many palaces, but there is a fair number of both, and, what is better in a practical way, there are many establishments where cotton, iron, copper, bronze, and other goods are manufactured. As a commercial and manufacturing center, Osaka is at the head, and without a rival so far as Japan is concerned."

Towards sunset the party took a stroll through the city, stopping in front of several shops, and entering one or two of the larger. The boys were of opinion that the shops of Osaka were larger than those of Tokyo, and there was one silk-store that was twice the size of any they had seen in the eastern capital. The goods that were displayed were not materially different from what they had already seen, and consequently they were not disposed to linger long on the way. They extended their walk to the upper part of the city, where several temples are situated, and they finally reached the famous Castle of Osaka, whence there is a line view from the walls. There was some difficulty in entering the castle, but through the explanations of John the matter was arranged and they went inside.
The Castle of Osaka

One of the wonders of Japan is the wall of the Castle of Osaka, or rather of a portion of it. During the sixteenth century Osaka was the capital of the empire, and remained so for many years. While it was the capital the emperor commanded the tributary princes to assist in building the walls of the imperial residence, and each was to send a stone for that purpose. The stones are there, and it would be no small matter to remove them. Our friends had no means of measurement at hand, but they estimated that some of the stones were twenty feet long by half that width, and six feet in depth. They were as large as an ordinary street-car, and some of them were larger, and how they could have been transported over the roads of Japan and hoisted into their places was a mystery no one could explain.

The view from the top of the castle walls is magnificent, and well repays the trouble of making the ascent. In front is the city like a broad map, and there is no difficulty in tracing the lines of the streets and the sinuosities of the rivers and canals. Beyond the city, on the right, is the water of the bay, which opens into the Pacific, while on the left is the plain that stretches away to Kobe and Hiogo. Beyond the plain is the range of sharp hills and mountains, and as one turns slowly to the west and north he can sweep the landscape almost to the gates of Kyoto and the shores of Lake Biwa. To the east, again, there are mountains rising sharply from the fertile plain, so that one seems to be standing in a basin of low land with a curving rim of mountains. The sun was about setting as our party reached the top of the high wall, and they remained there in full enjoyment of the scene until the shadows began to fall and the light to fade out from the sky. It was the most delightful landscape view that had fallen to the lot of the youths since their ascent of Mount Fuji.

They regretted the necessity of departing from the castle, but regrets were of no use, and they descended to the streets just as the lamps were getting into full blaze.


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

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


Tea: The dried leaves or buds of the tea plant used to make the drink of the same name.
Warehouse: A place for storing large amounts of products.
Scorch: A slight or surface burn.
Tea Chest: A standardized box, made of plywood with riveted metal corners, used to transport tea to markets.
Junk: A Chinese sailing vessel.
Helmsman: A member of a ship's crew who is responsible for steering.


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 settings in modern times:

  • The city of Osaka, Japan.
  • The castle of Osaka, Japan.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

  • Find the country of Japan on the map of the world.
  • Trace the path taken from Yokohama to Kobe to Osaka on the map of Japan.

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

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