This week’s fun link is a combination of my enjoyment of first-person accounts, historical ladies magazines, and the late Meiji period. This article from The Lady’s Realm (1903-4), a British women’s magazine, details the lifestyle of Viscount Hayashi and his wife Misao. I always find the authors’ biases to be the most telling (and sometimes infuriating) parts of such sources:
Indian tea, taken in the barbarous fashion, as they consider it, with milk and sugar, is tabooed, and real Japanese tea, in tiny porcelain cups, pale and fragrant, and without milk or sugar, is served to the guests, supplemented by dainty Japanese sweetmeats and dishes.
Also, a prize for world’s most baffling explanation of the Meiji Restoration: “The Mikado, being a wise man, made friends with those of his subjects who had taken up arms against him when the Civil War came to an end.”
This article is a short insight into how Japan was discussed in Europe at the time. A more legible version is on Edwardian Promenade and the original can be accessed as a free ebook on Google Books. Be sure to check out the portraits of the Crown Prince (later Emperor Taisho) and Princess.
Bonus: the magazine also includes a printing of the fable “Buddha’s Crystal,” translated by Ozaki Yei. You can find the whole book Buddha’s Crystal and Other Fairy Stories (1908) on Archive.org. Would any folktale buffs like to weigh in?
Added bonus: the typo of nutsuké for netsuke.