The Cruise of The Flying Squadron
1869 - 1870
Wednesday April 6th
"Passed Vries Island 1 with a fine fair wind. Passed several ships making for Yokohama. Committed to the deep the remains of late Mr Pink."
"The wind falling light towards the evening we got up steam and steamed for anchorage. 8.30 pm anchored in Yokohama roads. Found here HMS Pearl and HMS Havoc and the American frigate Delaware bearing the flag of Admiral Rowan USN. Commenced coaling and refitting ships. This place has greatly altered since I was here in 63. Where there used to be half a dozen ships there are now some two or three hundred; the same with the houses on shore. They have also built a fine Naval Club."
Valley of the Mayonashi
"Valley of the Mayonashi – irrespective of the attractions of the Mayonashi as a picturesque retreat among the hills, bathing and trout fishing may be obtained, it is also a starting place for the sacred mountain Fusyama which like all other sacred mountains is said to have its guardian demon yeleph Tujo who exhibits his displeasure by breaking the legs of all who attempt to ascend on any side but the regular pathway. There is said to be good sport in wild boar and deer shooting on the mountain but the cover is so thick the game is scarcely worth the candle."
The Daibutsu (Great Buddha)
"There is a nice ride out to Daibutsu 2 a great Bronze God 50 ft high. The bronze statue is in a pretty little grove the avenue leading to it being lined with Camellias. Inside the figure are numerous gilt images of Buddhist saints, shrines etc."
"The second day after we arrived I walked out to the execution ground about one and a half miles from Yokohama. It is a small plain about 100 yards square in the middle of a copse of fir trees. When I visited it there were about 20 skeletons of men who had been strangled for various crimes and one fresh body which the dogs were eating. Then I came back round by the back of the settlements stopping at the different tea houses on the way and drank the native beverage which these people always bring you as a present."
"Execution – there are several forms of capital punishment in Japan. First decapitation, the next in order of severity is decapitation with the disgraceful exposure of the head after death, then crucifixion, finally the burning alive of incendiaries. The victim to be crucified is tied hand and foot to a cross and is transfixed by spears. People belonging to the Eta or Pariah classes carry out the sentence – a group of whom may be seen sitting in the hut watching the remains which it will be their next duty to inter."
"The Japanese criminal usually meets his fate, however cruel it may be, with calm fortitude. Persons belonging to the military class may claim the privilege of performing the Hara-kiri or suicide by disembowelling. In such cases the self-inflicted wound not being mortal a friend or relation performs the office of headsman but often he prefers to finish the deed he has begun by cutting his own throat."
"The morality of Japan as we all know is not the most perfect – the men and women all washing in the same bath house is one example, but I think they are getting much better as their intercourse with foreigners increases."
"Mr Scot a midshipman of the Phoebe was tried by court martial for insubordination and dismissed the service."
1 An active Volcano then in the process of getting up steam
2 The Daibutsu (Great Buddha) is the main Buddha of the Kotokuin (Daiisan Kotokuin Josenji). The statue was initially enshrined in a hall like the Daibutsu in Nara. Old records show that the priest Joko of Toe planned the construction of the Buddha in 1236, the year that Hojo Yasutoki was Shikken (regent).
© Copyright Charles Fountain May 2002
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