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

Chapter 22: The Inland Sea and Nagasaki—Caught in a Typhoon

From Kobe westward the route lies through the famous Inland Sea of Japan, known to the Japanese as the Suwo Nada. The Inland Sea is more like a lake than an arm of the ocean, and there have been travelers who could not readily believe that it was connected with the ocean, and that its waters were salt instead of fresh. The distance is, in round numbers, about two hundred and fifty miles, and through the entire voyage the land is constantly in sight, and generally close at hand. The islands rise sharply from the water, and a large portion of them are densely wooded and exceedingly picturesque.
The Inland Sea Near Hiogo

During the whole of the voyage, as long as the daylight favored them, our young friends remained on deck, and studied the scenery along the route. Sometimes the sea widened out to fifty miles or more, and at others it contracted so that there was no sign of a passage before them, and it was difficult to say which way the steamer would turn. Now and then the islands were so close together that the steamer made her course as though she were tracing the sinuosities of the Mississippi River, and it was necessary to keep a sharp lookout to avoid accidents on the numerous rocks that lie sunken in the channel. Mishaps to the steamers are of rare occurrence, as the channel has been carefully buoyed, and the pilots understand their business fully, but it is otherwise with the unwieldy junks, which are often driven by an adverse wind directly into the dangers their captains are seeking to avoid. The traffic through the Inland Sea is very great, both by the steamers and by the junks, and sometimes whole fleets of the latter may be seen waiting in some of the sheltering nooks for a favoring wind. The steamers make the passage from one end to the other of the Inland Sea in less than twenty-four hours, but the junks are frequently a fortnight in covering the same distance. They are never in a hurry, and therefore time is no object.

The Inland Sea is entered soon after leaving Kobe, and it terminates at Simoneseki, where there is a narrow strait leading into the open waters. Our friends wanted to land at Simoneseki, where the steamer made a halt of a couple of hours, but they were informed that the port was not opened to foreigners, and, therefore, their only view of it was a distant one. However, they were consoled by the reflection that they could have plenty of time at Nagasaki, where the ship was to remain a day and a half before continuing her voyage. Nagasaki was the first place opened to foreigners, and there are many points of interest about the city.
Approaching Simoneseki

Hardly was the anchor down when our trio entered a boat and were rowed to the shore. Nagasaki is prettily situated in a bay that is completely landlocked, and affords secure anchorage to ships even in the severest gales. Doctor Bronson had been in the harbor of Rio Janeiro, in South America, and said that the bay of Nagasaki was a sort of pocket edition of that of Rio Janeiro. The hills rise abruptly from the water, and lie in terraces that seem to lose themselves in the distance. Some of the hills are wooded, while others are cleared and cultivated, and in either case there are evidences of the most careful attention on the part of the inhabitants of the country. Looking seaward the hills gradually separate until the entrance of the bay is reached. Here the island of Pappenberg stands directly across the mouth of the bay, and, while seemingly obstructing it, serves as a breakwater against the in-rolling waves.

"That island has a fearful history," said Doctor Bronson, while they were looking at it when the steamer entered the harbor.

"Do you mean the island of Pappenberg?" Frank asked.

"I know," said Fred. "It has a history connected with the establishment of Christianity in Japan more than two hundred years ago."

"I think I have already told you something of the attempt to make Japan a Christian country," the Doctor continued. "The island of Pappenberg is one of the places that witnessed the extinction of the Christian religion in Japan after it had gained a strong footing. Do you observe that one side of the island is like a precipice?"
Pappenberg Island

The boys regarded the point to which their attention was directed, and they regarded it more attentively when they were told that from that steep rock many thousands of men and women were hurled, solely for the offense of being Christians. Those that were not killed by the fall were drowned in the sea, and not one was allowed to escape. Pappenberg is known in history as the Tarpeian Rock of Japan. It is now used as a picnic resort of the foreign inhabitants of Nagasaki, and a more delightful spot for a pleasure excursion could not be easily found.

According to some writers there were nearly a hundred thousand Christians massacred after the discovery of the conspiracy which was to put Japan under the control of Portugal, but the Japanese say that these figures are an exaggeration. It is difficult to get at the truth of the matter, as neither party can be relied on for accuracy, or rather the accounts that have come down to us cannot be considered impartial.

As nearly as can be ascertained the first European who landed on Japanese soil was Mendez Pinto, a Portuguese who combined the occupations of merchant and pirate in such intimate relations that it was not always easy for him to determine where the one ended and the other began. He has been greatly slandered, and his name has an ignoble place in history, as that of a champion liar. The fact is, that the stories he told on his return to Europe, and which caused him to be called "The Mendacious," were substantially correct, quite as much so as those of Marco Polo, and far more than the narrations of Sir John Mandeville. Pinto came with two companions to the island of Tanegashima in 1542, and, as might be expected, they were great curiosities. Even more curious were the firearms they carried, and they were invited to visit the Daimyo of Bungo, and bring their strange weapons with them. They did so, and taught the natives how to make guns and powder, which soon became generally used throughout Japan. To this day firearms are frequently called "Tanegashima," after the island where Pinto landed with the first of these weapons. Christianity followed closely on the track of the musket. The adventurers returned with a profit of twelve hundred per cent. on their cargo.
Women of Nagasaki

Their success stimulated others, and in 1549 two Portuguese missionaries, one of them being Francis Xavier, landed in Japan, and began the work of converting the natives. Xavier's first labors were in Satsuma, and he afterwards went to Kyoto and other cities. Personally he never accomplished much, as he could not speak the language fluently, and he remained in the country only a few years. But he did a great deal to inspire others. Numbers of missionaries flocked to Japan, and it is said that thirty years after Xavier landed on the soil there were two hundred churches, and a hundred and fifty thousand native Christians. At the time of the highest success of the missionaries it is estimated that there were not less than half a million professing Christians in Japan, and perhaps another hundred thousand who were nominally so, though their faith was not regarded as more than "skin deep." Among the adherents of the new religion there were several Daimyos, and a great number of persons occupying high social and official positions. Some of the Daimyos were so zealous that they ordered their people to turn Christians whether they wished it or not, and one of them gave his subjects the option of being baptized or leaving the country within twenty-four hours.

The Dutch were great traders in the East Indies, and they managed to obtain a footing in Japan during the time of the Portuguese success. They received a concession of the island of Deshima, about six hundred feet square, in the harbor of Nagasaki, and here they lived until our day. When the troubles arose that led to the expulsion of foreigners and the extinction of Christianity, the Dutch were excepted from the operations of the edict, as it could not be shown that they had had any part in the conspiracy. They had been too busy with their commerce to meddle in religious matters, and, if history is true, it is probable that they hadn't religion enough in their small colony at Deshima to go around and give a perceptible quantity to each man.
Monuments in Memory of Martyrs

This little island was in reality a prison, as its inhabitants were not allowed to go outside for any purpose, except once in three years, when a delegation of them made a journey to Yeddo to make presents to the Tycoon. They were compelled to travel the most of the way in closed norimons, and thus their journey did not afford them many glimpses of the country. There is a tradition that they were required to go through the ceremony of trampling on the cross in the presence of the Tycoon, and also to intoxicate themselves, as a warning to the Japanese to shun the wicked ways of the foreigners. Whether either account be true I am unable to say. The assertion is very positively made and as positively denied, and therefore I will leave every reader, who has paid his money for the book, to make choice of the side of the story which suits him best.

The first move of our friends on landing was to go to Deshima, as they had a curiosity to see the little island, which was so famous in the history of the foreign relations of Japan with the outer world. The drawbridge leading to the island, and the box where the Japanese sentries stood, were still there, and so were some of the buildings which the Dutch inhabited, but the Dutch were gone, and probably forever. Outside of the historical interest there was nothing remarkable about the island, and the boys wondered how men could voluntarily shut themselves up in a prison like this. Only one ship a year was allowed to come to them, and sometimes, during the wars between Holland and other countries, there were several years together when no ship came. They were permitted to purchase certain quantities of fresh provisions daily, and when they ran short of needed articles they were supplied by the governor of Nagasaki. But no permission could be granted to go outside their narrow limits. How they must have sighed as they gazed on the green hills opposite, and with what longing did they think of a ramble on those grassy or wooded slopes!
Hollander at Deshima Watching for a Ship

The chief use of Deshima, as our friends found it, is to serve as a depository of Japanese wares, and particularly of the kinds for which Nagasaki is famous. Nagasaki vases and Nagasaki lacquer were in such quantities as to be absolutely bewildering, and for once they found the prices lower than at Yokohama. They made a few purchases, their final transactions in Japan, and then turned their attention to a stroll through the city.

There was not much to amuse them after their acquaintance with other cities of Japan, and so they were speedily satisfied. On the hill overlooking the town and harbor they found an old temple of considerable magnitude, then another, and another, and then teahouses almost without number. In one of the latter they sat and studied the scenery of Nagasaki until evening, when they returned to the steamer.

Another ramble on shore the following morning, and they left the soil of Japan for the deck of the steamer. At noon they were slowly moving down the bay. They passed the island of Pappenberg, and, as they did so, Frank read from a book he had picked up in the ship's cabin the following paragraph:

"In that same year, when the last of the Roman Catholic converts were hurled from the rocky islet of Pappenberg, in the Bay of Nagasaki, a few exiles landed at Plymouth, in the newly discovered continent, where they were destined to plant the seeds of a Protestant faith and a great Protestant empire. And it was the descendants of the same pilgrim fathers that, two centuries later, were the first among Western nations to seek to recruit additional people to the circle of Christian communion."
The Rain Dragon

And while meditating on the mutations of time and the strangeness of many events recorded in history, our friends passed from the harbor of Nagasaki into the open sea.

"Sayonara!" said Frank, raising his cap and bowing towards the receding land.

"Sayonara!" echoed Fred, as he followed his cousin's example. "I say 'Sayonara' now, but I hope that sometime in the future I may be able to say 'Ohio.'"

"And so do I," Frank added. "It is a charming country, and I don't think we shall find a more agreeable one anywhere."

The conversation was cut short by the call to dinner, a call that has suppressed many a touch of sentiment before now, on land as well as on the water.

It is a voyage of two days, more or less, according to the speed of the steamer, from Nagasaki to Shanghai. Our friends had hoped to be in Shanghai on the afternoon of the second day from the former port, but their hopes were not destined to be realized. The Japanese gods of Rain, Wind, and Thunder interfered.

The morning after their departure from Nagasaki, Frank went on deck soon after daylight. The wind was so strong that it almost took him from his feet, and he was compelled to grasp something to make sure of remaining upright. The sky was overcast, and every few minutes there came a sprinkling of rain that intimated that the cabin was the better place for anyone who was particular about keeping dry. Fred joined him in a few minutes, and soon after Fred's arrival the Doctor made his appearance.
The Thunder Dragon

The Captain was on the bridge of the steamer, and appeared much disturbed about something, so much so that the boys asked Dr. Bronson if he thought anything had gone wrong.

The Doctor gave a hasty glance at the sky and the water, and then retreated to the cabin, where a barometer was hanging. A moment's observation of the instrument satisfied him, or, rather, it greatly dissatisfied him, for he returned hastily to the deck and rejoined the boys with the observation,

"We shall have it very lively in a short time, and are not likely to reach Shanghai in a hurry."

"Why? What do you mean?"

"I mean that we are about to have a typhoon."

"I should rather like to see one," Frank remarked.

"Well," the Doctor replied, "you are about to be accommodated, and if we get safely out of it I am very sure you will not want to see another.

"But as we are in for it," he continued, "we must make the best of the situation, and hope to go through in safety. Many a strong ship lies at the bottom of the sea, where she was sent by just such a storm as we are about to pass through, and many another has barely escaped. I was once on a ship in the China seas, when the captain told the passengers that it would be a miracle if we remained half an hour longer afloat. But hardly had he done speaking when the wind fell, the storm abated, and we were safe. The typhoon is to these waters what the hurricane is to the West Indies. It is liable to blow at any time between April and September, and is often fearfully destructive.

"The word typhoon comes from the Japanese 'Tai-Fun,' which means 'great wind,' and the meaning is admirably descriptive of the thing itself. There is no greater wind in the world than a typhoon. The traditional wind that would blow the hair off the back of a dog is as nothing to it. A cyclone is the same sort of thing, and the two terms are interchangeable. Cyclone is the name of European origin, while typhoon comes from the Asian.
A Typhoon

"The typhoon blows in a circle, and may be briefly described as a rapidly revolving wind that has a diameter of from two to five hundred miles. It is a whirlwind on a large scale, and as furious as it is large. A curious fact about it is that it has a calm center, where there is absolutely no wind at all, and this center is sometimes forty or fifty miles across. Nearest the center the wind has the greatest violence, and the farther you can get from it, the less severe is the gale. Mariners always try to sail away from the center of a typhoon, and I have known a ship to turn at right angles from her course in order to get as far as possible from the center of a coming tempest. There is a great difference of opinion among captains concerning these storms, some declaring that they have been in the middle point of a typhoon and escaped safely, while others aver that no ship that was ever built can withstand the fury of a storm center. But I think the weight of evidence is in favor of the former rather than the latter, as I have known captains who have described their situation in such a way as to leave not the slightest doubt in my mind of the correctness of their statements.

"If you have any desire to study the subject fully, I advise you to get 'Piddington's Law of Storms.' You will find it treated very fully and intelligently, both from the scientific and the popular point of view.

"It has never been my fortune," the Doctor continued, "to be farther in a typhoon at sea than the outer edge, but that was quite as much as I wanted. One time on land I saw and felt one of these tempests. It drove ships from their moorings, swamped hundreds of boats, unroofed many houses, tore trees up by the roots, stripped others of their branches, threw down walls and fences, flooded the land, and caused a vast amount of havoc everywhere. Hundreds of people were drowned by the floods, and the traces of the storm will last for many years. The city that has suffered most by these storms is Calcutta. On two occasions the center of a typhoon has passed over the harbor or within a few miles of it, and the whole shipping of the port was driven from its moorings and the greater part completely or partially wrecked."
Course of a Typhoon

While they were listening to the remarks of the Doctor the boys observed that the wind was increasing, and as they looked at the compass they found that the ship's course had been changed. Everything about the vessel that could be made fast was carefully secured, and the party was notified that they might be ordered below at any moment. The waves were not running high, and but for the very severe wind there would have been nothing to cause more than ordinary motion on board the steamer.

After a time the waves broke into what is called a "choppy sea." The wind was so great that their crests were blown away before they could rise to any height worthy of notice. Mariners say that in a severe typhoon the ocean is quite smooth, owing to the inability of the waves to form against the irresistible force of the wind. It is fortunate for them that such is the case, as they could not possibly survive the combined action of the cyclone and the great waves together.

For three or four hours the wind continued to increase, and the waters to assume the shapes we have seen. The barometer had fallen steadily, and everything indicated that the arrival of the steamer at Shanghai, or at any other port, was by no means a matter of certainty. The order was issued for the passengers to go below, and our friends descended to the cabin. Just as they did so the decks were swept by a mass of water that seemed to have been lifted bodily from the sea by a gust of wind. The order to go below was not issued a moment too soon.

The Doctor took another glance at the barometer, and discovered something. The mercury was stationary!

Ten minutes later it had risen a few hundredths of a degree. The rise was small, but it was a rise. In another ten minutes another gain was perceptible.

The Doctor's face brightened, and he called the boys to observe what he had discovered. He had already explained to them that the barometer falls at the approach of stormy weather, and rises when the storm is about to pass away. Before a storm like a typhoon the fall is very rapid, and so certainly is this the case that mariners rely upon the barometer to give them warning of impending danger.

An hour from the time they went below they were allowed to go on deck again. The wind had abated a little, so that there was no further danger of their being swept from the decks by the water. The clouds were less dense and the rain was not falling so heavily. In another hour there was another perceptible decline in the wind, and a little later the ship was again put on her course. The captain announced the danger over, and said the center of the typhoon had passed at least a hundred miles to the west of them. "If we had kept our course," said he, "we should have been much nearer to it, and then the storm would have been more dangerous for us."

"How do you know which way to turn?" Frank asked. "It seems to me you are just as likely to run to the center of the storm as to the circumference."
Caught Near the Storm's Center

"There's where you don't understand the science of storms," said the captain smiling. "In the northern hemisphere typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes, they are all the same, whirl from left to right, that is, they turn like the hands of a watch, while in the southern hemisphere their motion is exactly the reverse. When we think we are in the sweep of a typhoon in these waters, we run with the wind on our starboard, or right hand, and that course will take us away from the center. In the southern hemisphere we run with the wind on the port, or left hand, with the same result. But we'll go to dinner now and be happy, for the danger is over."

Just as they were rising from table they were suddenly called on deck by the announcement of a wreck. An American bark had been dismasted by the gale and lay helpless on the water. Her captain wished to be taken in tow to the mouth of the Yangtze, and after some minutes spent in making a bargain, the matter was arranged and a line passed out.

"They were less fortunate than we," the Doctor remarked as they proceeded with their tow.

"Yes," answered the captain, "the poor fellow was nearer the center of the typhoon than we were. There'll be a job for the ship carpenters and riggers at Shanghai. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good."

Frank was looking through the captain's glass at the persons who were moving about the deck of the bark. Suddenly he observed something and called out to his companions:

"Look, look! here's a familiar face!"

The Doctor took the glass and then handed it to Fred. The latter looked steadily for a minute or more before he had a satisfactory view, and then said:

"It's our old friend, the Mystery!"

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

Chapter 22: The Inland Sea and Nagasaki—Caught in a Typhoon


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

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


Sinuosity: The property of meandering or having curves in alternate directions.
Gale: A very strong wind.
Zealous: Exhibiting a strong passion.
Baptize: To perform the Christian sacrament by which one is received into a church and sometimes given a name, generally involving the candidate to be anointed with or submerged in water.
Hurricane: A system of winds rotating around a center of low atmospheric pressure in the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern North Pacific.
Typhoon: The equivalent to a hurricane occurring in the northwestern Pacific.
Cyclone: The equivalent to a hurricane occurring in the South Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.
Barometer: An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure.


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: The city of Nagasaki, Japan.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

Find the following general areas where swirling, low-pressure storms are called:

  • Hurricanes (North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean).
  • Typhoons (Northwestern Pacific Ocean).
  • Cyclones (South Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean).

Find the following on the map of Japan:

  • The salt water inland sea that resembles a lake west of Kobe.
  • The boys' path from Kobe to Nagasaki on the map of Japan.

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

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

Activity 6: Say Sayonara

  • Call out 'Sayonara Japan,' and wave goodbye as in the next chapter the boys will arrive in Shanghai, China.