September 24, 2021

Japan and the Japanese delegation

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Japanese delegation

Japanese delegation - Der Bazar - Nr.36 - 1962

Coming from Japan, which until recently was strictly secluded, an envoy is now making the rounds of the important states of Europe to conclude a commercial treaty with the same and to become acquainted with European customs and institutions.

In pursuit of this purpose, the Japanese have displayed a commendable inquisitiveness, a lively interest, and a quick understanding of art, science, and industry wherever they have come.

If they have often displayed their astonishment at what they saw and heard in a lively and unconcealed manner, they themselves, with their light brown, beardless faces, shaven heads, strange costumes and peculiarly measured habits, have been no less a counter-city of amazement. Wherever the foreigners appeared, they were surrounded by a noisy crowd, and whoever was not granted the opportunity to see them face to face, at least wished to get to know them in pictures.

In order to anticipate the wishes of our readers in this respect as well, we give them today a picture of the most distinguished persons of the legation, the three ministers, princes Take No Ouchi Shimod zuke No Kami; Matsudaira Kwami No Kami and Riogoka Noto No Kami, and the chief of the delegation expedition. However, while the Japanese visit, admire and probably criticize Europe, we too, repaying them like with like, want to take a look at their fatherland.

Japan, located in the center of Asia, is a country richly blessed by nature, well cultivated by its inhabitants, whose products are processed by an industry in the country itself, which is on no small level.

The Japanese empire is ruled by two emperors, a spiritual one, Mikado, and a secular one, Tykoon, but the power of both is very limited by 360 noble classes, which are the actual rulers.

To the first class of these, the daimios, probably belong the gentlemen envoys represented here.
Even if we cannot judge the position of women in Japan according to European standards, it is much better than in other parts of Asia and allows them to participate in the social rank and pleasures of their husbands.

The young girls are not educated in a state of gross ignorance, as is the case almost everywhere in Asia, but attend elementary schools together with the boys, where they are taught writing, reading and the history of Japan.

The children of the nobility and the rich are then taught at a kind of high school, mainly in the innumerable ceremonies which accompany the life of a Japanese and which must be observed in the most trivial things.

The boys also learn some mathematics and must acquire skill in all physical exercises; the girls are instructed in female handicrafts and in presiding over the household, and are also made acquainted with the albeit simple literature of Japan.

At the age of fifteen, education is considered complete. Young people marry early and often only by the will of their parents, without having seen each other before.

The marriage is accompanied by religious ceremonies and the bride, covered with a white cloth, is led from the house of her parents to that of her husband, indicating that she is henceforth dead to her family and should live only for her husband.

The Japanese are sociable and love banquets, which, however, are of a very frugal nature, since their religion forbids them the consumption of meat. In general, at such feasts it is far more important to show off one's wealth of porcelain and lacquered dishes, to display luxury in the decoration of the dining room, than to please the palates of the guests with many and exquisite dishes.

The clothing of the Japanese has different modifications, depending on the rank of the person. The women wear a caftan, which reaches to the ankle, in the case of the women of the higher classes also probably drags on the ground and is held by a belt. Depending on the weather, several such garments, up to thirty, are worn on top of each other, each held by its particular belt. The last and outermost belt is an article of luxury, often twelve inches wide, woven of rich silk, and tied in a formidable bow at the back.

The hair is pulled together after the crown, placed in wide fantastic braids and adorned with colorful ribbons, combs, turtle shells and colored pins. White and red makeup is used in large quantities, married women stain their teeth black with a stain and paint their lips saffron red, which finally gives them a blue color, the non plus ultra of Japanese beauty.

The houses are mostly built of wood and are divided into several rooms or into one large room by paper-covered frames that can be slid back and forth.

The floor is covered with fine mats and instead of windows there are blinds covered with transparent paper, as paper plays an important role in Japan and is used for handkerchiefs, even for raincoats and umbrellas. In winter, the rooms are heated by braziers, an arrangement which results in many fires because of the easily inflammable building material.

One can see that the Japanese, in spite of their education, can still learn a lot from us, and, returning to Jeddo, the capital of Japan, the envoys are probably a vivid illustration of the song: "When someone travels, he can tell a story."

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