The narrative of a Japanese; what he has seen and the people he has met in the course of the last forty years./Chapter 1
August 4th. This morning the U.S. Consulate was found to be minus its national coat-of-arms over the gate-way. This seemed to ruffle the worthy Consul very considerably. He at once issued a notice offering a reward for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the thief who had been tampering with Uncle Sam's fowl-yard. But all to no purpose,--for what really became of that American Eagle remains a mystery even unto this day.
On August 6th the English fleet under Admiral Kupper steamed out of the bay in line. It was said to be bound for Kagoshima, Satsuma's Capital, to exact reparation from that Daimio for the outrage committed by his men at Namamugi on the Tokaido in September, 1862.
August 8th. The foreign representatives were notified by the Shogun's Government that Ogasawara, Dzosho-no-kami had been released from his membership of the Gorojiu.
August 10th. To-day, I was specially warned by the native authorities of Yokohama to be
careful not to leave the town for any distance, and not to venture out on the Kanagawa side at all, inasmuch as there were several Choshiu men wandering about in the neighbourhood, with intent to slay six marked men, of whom I was one. They went on to tell me how two days before the Kanagawa authorities had discovered a gory, clotted human head in a wayside privy on the Tokaido, with the following notice attached to it:--"This is the head of one of the Pilots who went on the American Ship-of-war to Shimonoseki on the 13th July and fought against his own countrymen on the 16th of the same month. There are five more men at large who are to be served in the same fashion.”
August 13th. This morning the native town of Yokohama was found to be placarded all over in an ominous manner. These notices intimated that all Government officials were to be cut down and their houses fired. In consequence of this, extra guards were distributed in the place and posted at all the gateways with instructions to be specially vigilant.
August 14th. Early this morning it was reported that a large body of Choshiu Samurai were marching upon Yokohama to attack and burn the foreign settlement, and that a large stock of weapons and munitions of war had already been smuggled into the native town by their secret agents.
August 16th. This morning we were startled by news of an ominous affair in Kioto. It was reported that five or six of the leading merchants there who had been dealing in foreign goods had been cut down by so-called rōnins, who had pilloried their victims' heads on the principal bridges of the city with the following notice affixed to them:--“These unprincipled persons have been dealing with foreign barbarians for their own gain, and have caused all goods to rise in price, whereby the majority of the people are suffering. Their actions are also contrary to the wishes of the Sovereign of the Empire, and therefore we have punished them as they deserve.”
In consequence of this intelligence we noticed this same afternoon that several of the native places of business were shut. Many of them remained closed for several days. We afterwards learned that this was partly from fear, and partly to mourn the fate of their friends at Kioto.
August 19th. This morning a local newspaper published the following despatch addressed by H.B.M.'s Chargé d' Affaires to the Prince of Satsuma.
H.B.M.'s Legation, 12th August, 1863.
To His Highness, Matsudaira Shuri-no-Daibu, the Daimio -Prince of Satsuma, or, in his absence, the Regent or other high officer for the time being administering the Government of the Prince of Patsuma, Hiuga, Osumi and the Lew-chew Islands.
Your Highness,--It is well known to you that a barbarous murder of an unarmed and un-offending British subject and merchant was
perpetrated on the 14th of the month of September last--the 21st day of the 8th month of the 2nd year of Bunkiu of the Japanese reckoning--upon the Tokaido near Kanagawa, by persons attending the procession and surrounding the norimono of Shimadzu Saburo, who, I am informed, is the father of your Highness. It is equally known to you that a murderous assault was made at the same time by the same retinue upon a lady and two other gentlemen, British subjects, by whom he was accompanied, the two gentlemen having been severely and seriously wounded while the lady escaped by a miracle. The names of the British subjects here referred to are as follows:--Chas. Lenox Richardson, murdered; Mrs. Borrodaile, Mr. Wm. Clarke, and Mr. Wm. Marshall severely wounded. This event filled with great and just indignation the British Government and people, and excited the sympathy of, and produced a painful impression upon all civilized countries.
Impressed with friendly and considerate feelings towards the Government of the Tycoon, with whom the Queen of Great Britain--my august Sovereign--is in relations by a Treaty of Peace and Amity, I acted with proper consideration for the Tycoon's Government, by leaving in its hands the legitimate means of speedily arresting and bringing to capital punishment the murderers from among Shimadzu Saburo's retinue.
This necessary forbearance on my part has been entirely approved by my Government, and appreciated and acknowledged by the Government of the Tycoon.
A different course proposed at the moment to be adopted in the excitement attending the barbarous outrage, might have resulted in the capture and, perhaps, death by summary retribution of Shimadzu Saburo himself.
Ten months have now elapsed since the perpetration of this unprovoked outrage, during which period my Government has been duly informed by me of the circumstances attending it, while the Tycoon's Ministers have held out to me from time to time assurance and hopes that the murderers would be given up by your Highness, according to the Tycoon's desire, and sent to Yedo for trial and execution.
But I have had occasion to report to my Government that, removed in your distant domain from the direct influence of the Japanese Government and shielded also by certain privileges and immunities
which belong to Daimios of this Empire, you have utterly disregarded all orders or decrees of the Japanese Government calling you to afford justice by sending the real criminals to Yedo. They have not been arrested or sent: and no redress has consequently been afforded by the Tycoon's Government, however desirous it may be of doing so.
In the meanwhile I have received the explicit instructions of my Government how to act in this matter. The Tycoon's Government may be impeded by the laws of the country and more specially by political embarrassments, from enforcing its desires upon Daimios of the Empire in regard to criminal acts committed by their adherents. But when British subjects are the victims of these acts, Japan as a nation must--through its Government--pay a penalty and disavow the misdeeds of its subjects to whatever rank they may belong.
Under instructions from my Government I demanded from the Tycoon's Government an apology and the payment of a considerable penalty for permitting the murderous attack made by your retainers on British subjects passing on a road open to them by treaty. Both these demands have been acceded to.
But the British Government has also decided that these circumstances constitute no reason why the real delinquents and actual murderers should he shielded by your Highness, or by any means escape the condign punishment which they merit and which they would be subjected to for great crimes, such as they have committed, in all other parts of the world.
It has thereupon been determined by my Government, and I am instructed to demand of your Highness as follows:--
First. The immediate trial and capital execution, in the presence of one or more of H.M.'s naval officers, of the perpetrators of the murder of Mr. Richardson and of the murderous assault upon the lady and the two gentlemen who accompanied him.
Second. The payment of £25,000 sterling to be distributed among the relations of the murdered man and those who escaped with their lives the swords of the assassins on that occasion.
These demands are required by H.M.'s Government to be acceded to by you immediately upon their being made known to you, and upon your refusing, neglecting, or evading to do so, the Admiral commanding the British forces in these seas will adopt such coercive
measures--increasing in their severity as he may deem expedient--to obtain the required satisfaction and redress. The Commander of Her Majesty's ships-of-war charged with the delivery of this letter is made acquainted with the specific demands which I have the honour to communicate to you in this letter; and, according as they are accepted or refused, he has received instructions either to carry out and witness their execution within a period of days which will be named, or, in the event of a refusal, to commence at once coercive operations pending the arrival of additional forces.
Your Highness is, therefore, earnestly requested seriously to consider the course you will adopt upon receipt of this communication, the terms of which it is not in my power to modify, alter, or discuss. I avail myself of this occasion to offer to your Highness the assurance of my respect and consideration.
(Signed.) E. ST. JOHN NEALE,
H.B.M.'s Chargé d' Affaires, In Japan.
The following extract from the same newspaper purports to be the translation of the reply to the above by the Prince of Satsuma's Minister, Kawakami Tajima:--
It is just that a man who has killed another should be arrested and punished by death, as there is nothing more sacred than human life; and although we should like to secure them (the murderers) as we have endeavoured to do since last year, it is impossible for us to do so, owing to the political differences at present existing between the daimios of Japan, some of whom even hide and protect such people.
Besides, the murderers are not one but several persons, and therefore, they find easier means of escape.
The journey to Yedo (undertaken by Shimadzu Saburo) was not with the object of committing murders, but to conciliate the two Courts of Yedo and Kioto, and you will, therefore, easily believe that our master (Shimadzu) could not have ordered it (the murder). Great offenders against the law of their country (Japan) who escape, are liable to capital punishment. If therefore we can detect those in question, and, after examination, find them to be guilty, they shall be
punished, and we will then inform the Commanders of your men-of-war at Nagasaki or at Kanagawa, in order that they may come to witness their execution. You must, therefore, consent to the unavoidable delay which is necessary for the carrying out of these measures. If we were to execute criminals condemned for other offences, and told you that they were the offenders (above referred to) you would not be able to recognize them; but this would be deceiving you and not acting in accordance with the spirit of our ancestors.
The (provincial) governments of Japan are subordinate to the Yedo Government; and as you are well aware, subservient to the orders received from it. We heard something about a Treaty having been negotiated in which a certain limit was assigned to Foreigners to move about in; but we have not heard of any stipulation by which they are authorized to impede the passage of a road.
Supposing this happened in your country to one travelling with a large number of Retainers as we do here; would you not chastise (push out of the way and beat) any one thus disregarding and breaking the existing laws of the country?
If this were neglected, Princes could no longer travel. We repeat that we agree with you that the taking of human life is a very grave matter.
On the other hand the insufficiency of the Yedo Government, which governs and directs everything, is shown by its neglecting to insert in the treaty (with Foreigners) the laws of the country (in respect to these matters) which have existed from ancient times. You will, therefore, be able to judge for yourself whether the Yedo Government (for not inserting the laws) or my master (for carrying them out) is to be blamed.
To decide upon this important matter, a high official of the Yedo Government and one of our Government ought to discuss it before you, and find out who is in the right. After the above question has thus been judged and settled, the money indemnity shall be arranged.
We have not received from the Tycoon any instructions or communication by steamer to the effect that your men-of-war were coming here. Such statements are probably made with the object of representing us in a bad light. If it were not with this object you
would certainly have them in writing from the Shogun; and if so, we request you to let us see them. In consequence of such misstatements great misunderstandings are caused. All this surprises us much Does it not surprise you? Our Government will act in everything according to the orders of the Yedo Government. This is an open-hearted reply to the different subjects mentioned in your dispatch.
(Dated) 29th day of the 6th month of the 3rd Year of Bunkiu.
August 21st. This morning one of the local papers has the following:--
The Cormorant has just arrived with the mail. She fell in with the fleet and brings the following intelligence:--On Saturday last at 12 noon, while anchored in Kagoshima Bay, the Japanese opened fire unexpectedly upon the fleet, while a heavy gale was blowing. The casualties are unfortunately numerous--Captain Josling and Commander Wilmot were killed with one and the same shot. Killed and wounded, 60.
All the ships have suffered more or less. The fleet is returning here, and is now near at hand. We give the following interesting particulars just received from our own correspondant. The batteries opened fire on us at 12, noon, on the 15th. The Admiral immediately made signal--“Burn prizes.” Three Japanese steamers (screw)--late England, Sir Geo. Gray, and Contest --were set on fire. These vessels had been taken in the morning and anchored closed to the squadron. When the batteries opened fire, the squadron weighed and formed in line of battle and attacked the forts at about 500 to 600 yards range.
The fire from the forts was very good and heavy--from 60 to 70 guns firing 10-inch shell, and 12 and 24-pound shot. Capt. Josling and Commander Wilmot were both killed by a shot on the bridge at 2.55 p.m. A 10-inch shell exploded on the main deck, killing 7 men and wounding Lieutenant Jephson and five men. The weather was very bad, the wind blowing strong and directly on shore, and raining. 3. p.m. the town caught fire. 3.20 p.m. the fleet hauled out of action. 7.15 p.m. the gun-boat Havoc set fire to 5 junks (Loochew junks). 9.20 p.m. we observed the factories and foundries to be on fire. Fire burning in town all night; also junks and factories blazing.
August 16th. At 3.30 p.m. we weighed and steamed for entrance.
Opened fire with shot and shell on town and batteries. Only two forts returned the fire. Anchored out of range of forts. Midnight the town still burning. List of killed and wounded:--
Euryalus 10 killed and 21 wounded.
Pearl 7 “ 7 ”
Coquette 6 “ 1st Lieut. wounded, since died.
Persias 1 “ 2 wounded, since died.
Race-horse 2 “ 2 ”
Havoc none “ none
When the above was read by the foreign community all were greatly excited, not knowing how long the situation would continue.
August 26th. The morning's paper gives further particulars of the battle at Kagoshima:--
On the 13th the fleet approached nearer to the town. A good number of junks were seen anchored close in shore. The squadron got where the Admiral desired.--About half-past 8 o'clock on Wednesday morning, and after anchoring, some of Satsuma's officials came on board to inquire, we fancy, what had brought the fleet there, and what the foreigners wanted. These officials undertook to carry to their master, or to his Lieutenant at Kagoshima, the demands of Great Britain, which Colonel Neale had ready, prepared in Japanese, Dutch and English. The British Minister gave them until two p.m. on the 13th, to reply: and about 3 p.m. on that day a high official--the Vice-Minister, as he was said to be--came off to the flag-ship, accompanied by a guard of 40 men, whom he insisted on seeing on board the Euryalus before he would venture there. He had not been long on board, when another boat was sent after him, with a message--which wrought an immediate change in the matter. He then stated that he could give no reply then nor could he say when he should be able to do so. On the same evening, however, at about 8 o'clock, this same official came on board the flag-ship again, and delivered a dispatch from Satsuma, or his Chief Minister, written in Japanese and addressed to Colonel Neale. * * * Satsuma's letter proved to be a very interesting one, although a most unsatisfactory reply to the demands
of Great Britain; and so much was intimated to the official who came off the next morning for the answer, and who was informed that a flag of truce ought in future to cover his visits to that vessel. * * *
It appears that Satsuma's Minister wrote to the effect that--“His August Master, previous to the arrival of the British fleet before Kagoshima, had no intimation given him by the Tycoon's Government of the demands which Great Britain was about to make upon him. That in regard to any money demands, the British Minister must address himself to the Government at Yedo, as he (Satsuma) could not decide on such a question as that without the sanction of the Tycoon's Ministers; that according to the Laws and Customs of Japan, he had done no wrong whatever; that in regard to the murder of Mr. Richardson on the Tokaido, he knew it to be a fact, but denied that Shimadzu Saburo had any hand whatever in the matter; that the man who causelessly murders another in Japan is amenable to punishment of the severest kind, and that, in this instance, he (Satsuma) had endeavoured to find the murderers, but so far they had evaded his authority; that if he had a mind to deceive the foreigners he could in an instant take some condemned criminals out of prison and hand them over to the Admiral as being the murderers of Mr. Richardson. But this deception his honor could not permit to be practised. That he was not bound by the Treaties of the Tycoon with foreigners; that these Treaties were contrary to the time-honored Laws of Gongen-sama; that the Tycoon alone was answerable in this case, as he had permitted foreigners to come into Japan contrary to law and custom, and granted them liberties which permitted them to interrupt and impede the movement of Japanese Princes on the high-roads; that if this were permitted to continue, it would soon be impossible for a Japanese Prince to travel through the country; that the attack on Mr. Richardson's party was not contrary to the Laws of Japan. And that therefore, his master (Satsuma) had done no wrong, and that under no circumstances could he, or would he, comply with any of the demands made by Great Britain.
The foregoing are, we believe, some of the most important point in Satsuma's reply, which resulted in the movements so well described by our correspondent, and which ended in the burning of eight large vessels (three of them being valuable foreign-built steamers with costly cargoes of sugar on board); the blowing up of two or three powder
magazines; the disabling of several batteries, and the almost total reduction to ashes of the large city of Kagoshima--together with its factories and foundries, which as a whole, indicate the destruction of an immense amount of property--not to mention the number of those who must have been killed and wounded, in the batteries and the town.
It is further stated that the Satsuma official who went on board the flagship, said that he had been commissioned by his chief to invite the Admiral and Colonel Neale, with the whole of their respective staffs, to come on shore to the Palace, there to confer regarding the the demands made upon Satsuma. This, of course was declined. It has since transpired, says rumour, that this was an attempt to lead the Admiral, the Minister and others, into a snare; and that if they had gone on shore as invited to do, every arrangement had been made for their seizure, by the lifting of draw-bridges, &c. And if this were effected, word would have been sent off to the squadron that the captives would be beheaded the moment a shot was fired at the town by any of the ships.
If the intended treachery proved successful, the captives were to be imprisoned at Kiri-shima, another town or stronghold of Satsuma's, some fifty miles inland.
August --. About this time, a great land boom has just set in in Yokohama. It began with a certain lot on the Bund, which together with the bungalow and stone go-down upon it my friend Mr. C-- had bought ni 1861 for $4,500. One day while we were at tiffin--I was messing with C-- at the time--a broker came in and wanted to see my friend in the office. So C-- excused himself and went into the office in the front of the building. He came back a good deal excited. “Heco!” he exclaimed, “what do you think the broker wanted
to see me about?” I replied that I had no idea. “Why,” he said, “he has offered me the enormous seem of $20,000 for this piece of ground. “Only, just think! In England with such a sum one can buy hundreds of acres and get a handsome revenue from the investment. What is he up to? Shall I accept, or wait for further developments?” I advised my friend to accept it, free of commission. C-- told the broker to come again at 2 p.m., when he would give a definite answer. At that hour the bargain was closed and the lot changed hands for $20,000 nett. When the news of the transaction spread, everybody in the foreign community began to ask what the meaning of this was? But no one could give any answer to the question. However, in spite of this, many residents began to speculate in land in the dark, and most of them had their fingers badly burnt in consequence. September 17th. Intelligence has just reached Yedo that the supporters of the Mikado are preparing to march upon the Kwanto with intent to overthrow the Shōgun's Government.
It is also stated that the Shōgun's Government has notified the Foreign Representatives that Asano Iga-no-Kami has been dismissed from his post as Governor of Kanagawa and that Sakai Wokio-no-Suke has been released from his office of Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. This, say the Japanese,
on account of their friendliness towards foreigners, which has caused the Mikado's Government to request their removal.
September 18th. Still more disquieting intelligence. At Yedo, some five days ago, one of the leading raw-silk dealers was killed by the Rōnin, who lay the rise in price of that commodity to his charge. The Shōgun's Government have added seven more Daimio to the Gorōjiu, or Council of State, on account of the critical condition of affairs.
September 20th. A most startling and gruesome piece of news has just come to hand from Kiōtō. At the dawn of the 25th day of the 7th moon a head, apparently just cut off, was found stuck on a wooden pole at the Western end of the Sanjobridge in that city. As daylight came on the grisly object was recognised as the head of Yamatoya Wohe, one of the leading merchants of Kiōtō. Below the head the following notice was affixed to the pole:--
“Genjiro, Hikotaro, Ichi-jiro and Shobé, these four persons were not at home when this occurrence took place, but the Mikado's punishment which they have merited shall be meted out to them hereafter. A few years ago, the Shōgun made treaties with outside nations without the consent of the Sovereign (the Mikado). And these people,
taking advantage of these treaties, have been dealing largely with foreigners and made much profit, without considering or caring how much others suffered by reason of their conduct. They have trafficked in copper cash, silk, wax, oil, salt, tea,--in fact in all the staples of the land, in articles necessary for the use of the people of the country. They have bought them up and sent them to Nagasaki, and Kanagawa or Yokohama, and there sold them to foreigners for their own gain. By so doing they have enhanced the price of all articles and all but themselves suffer. Many in the interior are pinched as in time of famine; families can no longer live in one place together; households are broken up and scattered; many have died from sheer want of food. On account of all this, we can no longer remain blind to the sufferings of the people.
“It may be asked why we wish to punish people who traded with foreigners under licence from the Shōgun's Government. We make answer that it is because they have forgotten their obligations to their country and to their Sovereign--because of their selfishness and indifference to the welfare of Japan--because, instead of regarding the suffering of their fellow-countrymen and giving heed to the warning of the Mikado, they have associated with the Shōgun's officers and traded with foreign
barbarians. The Bakufu officials are below the brute beasts, and the mischief they have compassed is more than we can tell of. We, in our persons, represent the suffering people of Dai Nippon, and in their names we have put Yamatoya Wohé to death. 23rd of 7th moon.”
“N.B.--Take note all those who may disregard the above warning in Osaka, Nagasaki, Jōshū, Ida, Nagahama, Oshū, Woji, and in all places, East and West--We the Rōnin shall watch and investigate the conduct of all merchants, and shall exterminate all those who deal with foreigners. Those who shew even the smallest liking for foreign people shall be dealt with even as this Yamatoya Wohé has been dealt with. Whoever owes money to this Yamatoya need not take the trouble of repaying it. Should the Governor of Kiōto make any stir in the matter, debtors ought to make the fact known to us by putting a written notice in his place. And as for the Governor and his minions, they shall be served after the fashion of this Yamatoya Wohé.”
September 23rd. The steamer Scotland arrived with twelve high officials from Satsuma, to negotiate with the British authorities about their demands. It is also stated that the American steamer Monitor, from Yokohama to China, touched at Kagoshima and was well received by
the Satsuma people. The officials who came in the Scotland told some of the residents that in the engagement with the English fleet at Kagoshima, their casualties amounted to but one killed and 20 or 30 wounded!
September 30th. Received intimation from Washington that my resignation of the office of Interpreter to the U.S. Consulate at Kanagawa had been accepted. Accordingly I left the Consulate and again started in business in Yokohama.