They had no difficulty in reaching the hotel, as they were in the hands of the runner of the establishment, who took good care that they did not go astray and fall into the clutches of the representative of the rival concern. The publicans of the open ports of Japan have a watchful eye for their interests, and the stranger does not have to wander long in the streets to find accommodation. The Doctor had been there before, and took great pains to have his bargain made with the utmost exactness, lest there might be a mistake at the time of his departure. "In Europe and Asia," he remarked to Frank, "a traveler soon learns that he cannot be too explicit in making his contracts at hotels. If he neglects this little formality, he will often find that his negligence has cost him something. The last time I was in Yokohama I had a very warm discussion with my landlord when I settled my bill, and I don't propose to have a repetition of it."
A Japanese Street Scene

The hotel was much like an American house in its general characteristics, both in the arrangement of the rooms and the style of furniture. The proprietors and managers were foreigners, but the servants were native and were dressed in Japanese costume. The latter were very quiet and orderly in their manners, and made a favorable impression on the young visitors. Testimony as to the excellent character of servants in Japan is nearly universal on the part of those who have employed them. In general, they are very keen observers, and learn the ways and peculiarities of their customers in a remarkably short time. And once having learned them, they never forget.

"When I was last here," said the Doctor, "I was in this very hotel, and had one of the regular servants of the establishment to wait on me. The evening after my arrival, I told him to have my bath ready at seven o'clock in the morning, and to bring a glass of ice water when he waked me. Exactly at seven he was at my bedside with the water, and told me the bath was waiting, and as long as I remained here he came at precisely the same hour in the morning, offered me the glass of water, and announced the readiness of the bath. I never had occasion to tell him the same thing twice, no matter what it was. Occasionally I went to Tokyo to spend two or three days. The first time I went, I showed him what clothes I wished to take, and he packed them in my valise, and afterwards I had only to say I was going to Tokyo, when he would immediately proceed to pack up exactly the same things I had taken the first time, or their equivalents. He never made the slightest error, and was a trifle more exact than I wished him to be. On my first journey I carried a bottle of cough-mixture to relieve a cold from which I happened to be suffering. The cold had disappeared, and the bottle was empty before my second trip to Tokyo, but my faithful servant wrapped it carefully in paper, and put it in a safe corner of my valise, and continued to do so every time I repeated the excursion."

The boys were all anxiety to take a walk through the streets of Yokohama, and could hardly wait for the Doctor to arrange matters with the hotelkeeper. In a little while everything was determined, and the party went out for a stroll. The Doctor led the way, and took them to the Japanese portion of the city, where they were soon in the midst of sights that were very curious to them. They stopped at several shops, and looked at a great variety of Japanese goods, but followed the advice of the Doctor in deferring their purchases to another time. Frank thought of the things he was to buy for his sister Mary, and also for Miss Effie, but as they were not to do any shopping on their first day in Japan. He did not see any occasion for opening the precious paper that Mary had confided to him previous to his departure.

They had a walk of several hours, and on their return to the hotel were quite weary enough to rest awhile. Frank and Fred had a whispered conversation while the Doctor was talking with an old acquaintance, and as soon as he was at liberty they told him what they had been conversing about.

"We think we want to write home now, Doctor," said Frank, "and wish to know if you approve of our doing so today."
Japanese Musicians

"By all means," replied the Doctor, with a smile. "It is time to begin at once. You are in a foreign country and there are plenty of things to write about. Your information will be to a great extent new and interesting to your friends, and the reasons that I gave you for not writing a long letter from Niagara do not exist here."

"I thought you would say so," responded Fred, his eyes sparkling with animation, "and I want to write while everything is fresh in my mind. I am going to write at once."

"And so am I," echoed Frank. "Here goes for a letter to friends at home."

Off the boys ran for their writing materials, and in a little while they were seated on the balcony of the hotel, and making their pens fairly fly over the paper.

Here is the letter from Frank to his mother:

"Yokohama, August 4th, 1878.

"My Dear Mother:

"I wish you could see me just now. I am sitting on the veranda of the hotel, and Fred is at the table with me. If we look up from our paper, we can see out upon the bay, where lots of ships are at anchor, and where a whole fleet of Japanese fishing boats are coming up and dragging their nets along after them. Down in the street in front of us there are some men with trousers as tight as their skins, and making the men look a great deal smaller than they are. They have hats like small umbrellas, and made of plaited straw, to keep the sun off, and they have them tied down under the chin with cords as big as a clothes-line. There are three musicians. One of them has on one of those great broad hats, another has his head covered with a sort of small cap, while the third has his skull shaven as smooth as a doorknob. The man with the hat on is blowing a whistle and ringing a small bell, the second is beating on a brass plate with a tiny drumstick, while the third has a pair of clappers which he knocks together, and he sings at the same time. Each of them seems to pay no attention to the rest. Two of them have their legs bare, but they have sandals on their feet, held in place by cords or thongs. The man with the hat must be the leader, as he is the only one that wears trousers, and, besides, he has a pocket-book hung to his girdle. I wonder if they make much money out of the music they are playing?

"A couple of fishermen just stopped to look at the musicians and hear the music. One had a spear and a net with a basket at the end, and the other carried a small rod and line such as I used to have when I went out for trout. They didn't have much clothing, though, nothing but a jacket of coarse cloth and a kilt made of reeds. Only one had a hat, and that didn't seem to amount to much. The bareheaded one scowled at me, and I think he can't be very fond of foreigners. Perhaps the foreigners deserve to be scowled at, or, at any rate, some of them do.
A Japanese Silk Shop

"We have seen such lots of things today, lots and lots. I can't begin to tell you all in this letter, and there is so much that I don't know where to commence. Well, we went into some shops and looked at the things they had to sell, but didn't buy anything, as we thought it was too soon. One of the shops I liked very much was where they sold silk. It wasn't much like a silk-shop at home, where you sit on a stool in front of a counter and have the clerks spread the things out before you. In this shop the silk was in boxes out of sight, and they only showed you what you asked for. There was a platform in the middle of the shop, and the clerks kneeled down on this platform, and unrolled their goods. Two women were there, buying some bright-colored stuff, for making a dress, I suppose, but I don't know. One man sat in the corner with a yardstick ready to measure off what was wanted, and another sat close by him looking on to see that everything was all right. Back of him there were a lot of boxes piled up with the goods in them, and whenever anything was wanted, he passed it out. You should have seen how solemn they all looked, and how one woman counted on her fingers to see how much it was all coming to, just as folks do at home. In a corner opposite the man with the yardstick there was a man who kept the accounts. He was kneeled on the floor like the rest, and had his books all around him, and when a sale was made, he put it down in figures that I couldn't read in a week.

"Then it was ever so odd to see the men bowing to each other. They did it with so much dignity, as if they had all been princes, or something of the sort. They rest their hands on their knees, and then bend the body forward, and sometimes they bend so low that their backs are level enough to set out a tea service on and use them for a table. When they want to bid goodbye, they say 'Sayonara,' just as we say 'Goodbye,' and it means exactly the same thing. They are not satisfied with one bow, but keep on several times, until you begin to wonder when they will get through. Everybody says they are the politest people in the world, and I can readily believe it if what I have seen is a fair sample.
Men Bowing

"There have been several men around the hotel trying to sell things to us, and we have been looking at them. One thing I am going to get and send in this letter is a box of Japanese pictures. They are not photographs, but real drawings by Japanese artists, and printed on Japanese paper. You will see how soft and nice the paper is, and though the pictures look rough, they are very good, and, above all things, they are truthful. I am going to get as many different ones as I can, and so I think you will be able to get a good idea of the country as the natives see it themselves. They have these pictures showing all their ways of life, how they cook their food, how they eat it, how they work, how they play, in fact, how everything is done in this very curious country. The Japanese make their drawings with very few lines, and it will astonish you to see how much they can express with a few strokes of a pencil. Here is a picture of a horse drawn with seven strokes of the artist's fingernail dipped in ink, and with a few touches of a wide brush for the mane and tail. Do you think my old drawing-master at home could do the same thing?

"The pillows they sleep on would never do for us. A Japanese pillow is a block of wood with a rest for the head, or rather for the neck, as the head doesn't touch it at all, except just below the ear. It is only a few inches long and high, and is perfectly hard, as the little piece of paper they put on it is intended for cleanliness, and not to make the pillow soft. You can't turn over on one of them, and as for doubling them up to throw at another boy, it is quite out of the question. I shall put in a picture of a Japanese woman lying down with her head on one of these curious things. The women have their hair done up so elaborately that they must sleep on something that does not disturb it, as they can't afford the time and trouble for fixing it every morning. You'll find a picture of their headdress in the lot I send with this, but it is from a sketch by a foreigner, and not by a native.
A Japanese Pillow

"Perhaps you will want to know something about the weather in Japan. It is very warm in the middle of the day, but the mornings and evenings are delightful. Around where we are the ground is flat, and the heat is greater than back among the hills. People remain as quiet as possible during the middle of the day, and if you go around the shops at that time, you find nearly everybody asleep who can afford to be so. The Japanese houses are all so open that you see everything that is going on, and they think nothing of lying down in full sight of the street. Since the foreigners came to Yokohama, the natives are somewhat more particular about their houses than they used to be. The weather is so warm in summer that the natives do not need to wear much clothing, and I suppose that is the reason why some people became relaxed about their appearance. In the last few years the government has become very particular about having the people well-dressed, and has issued orders compelling them to put on sufficient clothing to cover them whenever they go out of doors. They enforce these orders very rigidly in the cities and large towns, but in the country the people go around pretty much as they used to. Of course, you understand I am not speaking of the aristocracy. The latter are as careful about their garments as the nobles in any other part of the world, and they often spend hours over their toilets. A Japanese noble gotten up in fine style is a sight worth going a long distance to see, and he knows it too. He has a lot of stiff silks and heavy robes that cost a great deal of money, and they must be arranged with the greatest care, as the least displacement is a serious affair. I haven't seen one of old-fashioned dressed nobles yet, and Doctor Bronson says we may not see any during our stay in Japan, as the government has abolished the old dress, and adopted that of Western Europe. It is too bad that they have done so, as the Japanese dress is very becoming to the people, ever so much more so than the new one they have taken. Japan is fast losing its national characteristics, through the eagerness of the government to follow Western fashions. What a pity! I do hope I shall be able to see one of those old-fashioned dresses, and won't mind how far I have to go for it.
A Japanese Aristocrat

"Now, mother, this letter is addressed to you, but it is intended for everybody, and I know you'll read it to everybody, and have it handed round, so that all can know where I am and what I have told you about Japan. When I don't write to each one of you, I know you will understand why it is, because I am so busy, and trying to learn all I can. Give my love to each and everyone in the family, and tell Mary she knows somebody outside of it that wants a share. Tell her I often think of the morning we left, and how a handkerchief waved from the railway station when we came away. And tell Mary, too, that I haven't yet opened her list of things I am to get for her, but I haven't forgotten it, and have it all safe and right. There are lots of pretty things to buy here, and if she has made a full catalogue of Japanese curiosities, she has given me enough to do for the present, and the presents.

"Goodnight, dear mother, and look for another letter by the next mail.

"Your loving son,


Fred finished his letter almost at the same moment that Frank affixed the signature to his own. By the time they were through it was late in the evening, and the hour for retiring to bed. Their sleeping places were exactly such as they might have found in any American hotel, and they longed for a view of a Japanese bed. Frank was inclined to ask Doctor Bronson to describe one to them, but Fred thought it would be time enough when they went into the interior of the country and saw one.

They were up early the next morning, but not as early as the Japanese.

"I tell you what," said Frank, "I have made a discovery."

"What is it?"

"I have been thinking of something to introduce into the United States, and make everybody get up early in the morning."

"Something Japanese?"

"Yes. Something that interested us yesterday when we saw it."

"Well, we saw so many things that I couldn't begin to guess in half an hour. What was it?"

"It was a pillow."

"You mean those little things the Japanese sleep on?"

"Yes, they are so uncomfortable that we couldn't use them with any sort of pleasure. Nobody would want to lie in bed after they had waked up, if they had such a pillow under his head. They would be out in a minute, and wouldn't think of turning over for another doze.

"Now, if our Congress will pass a law abolishing the feather pillow all over the United States, and commanding everybody to sleep on the Japanese one, it would make every man, woman, and child get up at least an hour earlier every day. For forty million people this would make a gain of forty million hours daily, and that would be equal to forty-five thousand years. Just think what an advantage that would be to the country, and how much more we could accomplish than we do now. Isn't it a grand idea?"

Fred thought it might be grand and profitable to the country, but it would be necessary to make the pillows for the people, and from what he had heard of Congress, he didn't think they would vote away the public money for anything of the sort. Besides, the members of Congress would not wish to deprive themselves of the privilege of sleeping on feather pillows, and therefore they wouldn't vote away their liberties. So he advised Frank to study Japan a little longer before he suggested the adoption of the Japanese pillow in America.

This conversation occurred while the boys were in front of the hotel, and waiting for the Doctor, whom they expected every moment. When he came, the three went out for a stroll, and returned in good season for breakfast. While they were out they took a peep into a Japanese house, where the family were at their morning meal, and thus the boys had an opportunity of comparing their own ways with those of the country they were in.
A Japanese Breakfast

A dignified native, with the fore part of his head closely shaven, was kneeling on the floor in front of a little box about a foot high, which served as a table. Opposite was his wife, and at the moment our party looked in she was engaged in pouring something from a bottle into a small cup the size of a thimble. Directly under her hand was a bowl filled with freshly boiled rice, from which the steam was slowly rising, and at the side of the table was another and smaller one, holding some plates and chopsticks. A tiny cup and a bowl constituted the rest of the breakfast equipment. The wife sat with her back to the window, which was covered with paper in small squares pasted to the frame, and at her right was a screen, such as one finds in nearly all Eastern countries. On her left was a chest of drawers with curious locks and handles, which doubtless contained the family wealth of linen.

As they went on, after their view of a Japanese interior, Frank asked what was the name and character of the liquid the woman was pouring into the glass or cup for her husband.

"That was probably sake," replied the Doctor.

"And what is sake, please?"

"It is," answered the Doctor, "a sort of wine distilled from rice. Foreigners generally call it rice wine, but, more properly speaking, it is rice whiskey, as it partakes more of the nature of spirit than of wine. It is very strong, and will intoxicate if taken in any considerable quantity. The Japanese usually drink it hot, and take it from the little cups that you saw. The cups hold so small a quantity that a great many fillings are necessary to produce any unpleasant effect. The Japanese rarely drink to intoxication, and, on the whole, they are a very temperate people."

Fred thereupon began to moralize on the policy of introducing Japanese customs into America. He thought more practicable good could be done by the adoption of the Japanese cup, which would teach our people to drink more lightly than at present, than by Frank's plan of introducing the Japanese pillow. He thought there would be some drawbacks to Frank's enterprise, which would offset the good it could do. Thus a great number of people whom the pillow might bring up at an early hour would spend the time in ways that would not be any benefit to society, and they might as well be asleep, and in many cases better, too. But the tiny drinking cup would moderate the quantity of stimulants many persons would take, and thus a great good might be accomplished.

While thus talking, and trying to conjure up absurd things, they reached the hotel, and soon were seated at breakfast.

During breakfast Doctor Bronson unfolded some of the plans he had made for the disposal of their time, so that they might see as much as possible of Japan.

"We have taken a look at Yokohama since we arrived," said he, "but there is still a great deal to see. We can study the place at our leisure, as I think it best to make this our headquarters while in this part of the empire, and then we will make excursions from here to the points of interest in the vicinity. Today we will go to Tokyo."
Mutsuhito, Mikado of Japan

"Can't we go first to Yeddo?" said Fred. "I want so much to see that city, and it is said to be very large."

Doctor Bronson laughed slightly as he replied.

"Tokyo and Yeddo are one and the same thing. Tokyo means the Eastern capital, while Yeddo means the Great City. Both names have long been in use, but the city was first known to foreigners as Yeddo. Hence it was called so in all the books that were written prior to a few years ago, when it was officially announced to be Tokyo. It was considered the capital at the time Japan was opened to foreigners, but there were political complications not understood by the strangers, and the true relations of the city we are talking about and Kyoto, which is the Western capital, were not explained until sometime after. It was believed that there were two emperors or kings, the one in Yeddo and the other in Kyoto, and that the one here was highest in authority. The real fact was that the Shogun, or Tycoon (as he was called by the foreigners), at Yeddo was subordinate to the real emperor at Kyoto, and the action of the former led to a war which resulted in the complete overthrow of the Tycoon, and the establishment of the Mikado's authority through the entire country."

"Then the emperor is called the Mikado, is he not?"

"Yes, that is his official title. Formerly he was quite secluded, as his person was considered too sacred to be seen by ordinary eyes, but since the rebellion and revolution he has come out from his seclusion, and takes part in public ceremonials, receives visitors, and does other things like the monarchs of European countries. He is enlightened and progressive, and is doing all he can for the good of his country and its people.

"The curious feature of the revolution which established the Mikado on his throne, and made him the ruler of the whole country is this, that the movement was undertaken to prevent the very things it has brought about."
Landing of Perry's Expedition

"How was that?" Frank asked.

"Down to 1853 Japan was in a condition of exclusiveness in regard to other nations. There was a Dutch trading-post at Nagasaki, on the western coast, but it was confined to a little island, about six hundred feet square, and the people that lived there were not allowed to go out of their enclosure except at rare intervals, and under restrictions that amounted to practical imprisonment. In the year I mentioned Commodore Perry came here with a fleet of American ships, left some presents that had been sent by the President of the United States, and sailed away. Before he left he laid the foundation for the present commercial interactions between Japan and the United States, and on his return in the following year the privileges were considerably enlarged. Then came the English, and secured similar concessions, and thus Japan has reached her present standing among the nations.

"Having been exclusive so long, and having been compelled against her will to open her ports to strangers, there was naturally a good deal of opposition to foreigners even after the treaty was signed. The government endeavored to carry out the terms of the treaty faithfully, but there was a large party opposed to it, and anxious to have the treaties torn up and the foreigners expelled. This party was so powerful that it seemed to include almost a majority of the nation, and the Kyoto government took the Yeddo section to task for what it had done in admitting the foreigners. One thing led to another, and finally came the war between the Mikado and the Tycoon. The latter was overthrown, as I have already told you, and the Mikado was the supreme ruler of the land.
The Last Shogun of Japan

"The Mikado's party was opposed to the presence of foreigners in the country, and their war cry was 'Death to the strangers!' When the war was over, there was a general expectation that measures would be adopted looking to the expulsion of the hated intruder. But, to the surprise of many, the government became even more progressive than its predecessor had been, and made concessions to the foreigners that the others had never granted. It was a curious spectacle to see the conservative government doing more for the introduction of the foreigner than the very men they had put down because of their making a treaty with the Americans.

"The opponents of the Mikado's government accuse it of acting in bad faith, but I do not see that the charge is just. As I understand the situation, the government acted honestly, and with good intent to expel the foreigner in case it should obtain power. But when the power was obtained, they found the foreigner could not be expelled so easily. He was here, and intended to remain, and the only thing the government could do was to make the best of it. The foreign nations who had treaties with Japan would not tear them up, and the government found that what it had intended at the time of the revolution could not be accomplished. Foreign interactions went on, and the Japanese began to instruct themselves in Western ways. They sent their young people to America and other countries to be educated. They hired teachers to take charge of schools in Japan, and in every way tried to turn the presence of the foreigner to their advantage. There is an old adage that what can't be cured must be endured, and Japan seems to have acted upon it. The foreigner was here as an evil, and they couldn't cure him out. So they set about finding the best way of enduring him.

"But it is time we were getting ready for a start for Tokyo, and so we'll suspend our discussion of Japanese political history. It's a dry subject, and I hesitate to talk to you about it lest I may weary you."

Both the boys declared the topic was interesting, and they would consider their study of Japan incomplete without some of its history. The Doctor promised to return to the subject at some future occasion, and with this understanding they separated to prepare for their journey to the capital.


Study the chapter for one week.

Over the week:

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


Publican: The landlord of a public house.
Proprietor: An owner.
Manager: A person whose job is to manage something, such as a business, a restaurant, or a hotel.
Servant: One who is hired to perform regular household or other duties, and receives compensation.
Valise: A piece of hand luggage such as a suitcase.
Silk: A fine, soft cloth woven from the fine fiber excreted by the silkworm.
Sayonara: An utterance of sayonara, the wishing of farewell to someone.
Sake: A wine distilled from rice.
Shogun: The supreme commander of the armed forces of feudal Japan.
Mikado: Any emperor of Japan.


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 Yokohama, Japan.

Activity 4: Map the Chapter

  • Find the country of Japan on the map of the world.

Zoom in to find the following:

  • Tokyo, capital city of Japan
  • Yokohama (south of Tokyo), the Japanese city port where the boys are staying

Activity 5: Map the Chapter on a Globe

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