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board, and after three hours' steaming arrive at the mouth of the Osaca river. Struggling slowly up against the stream for three miles-of which the last mile lies between rows of wooden houses-we land with the aid of a couple of planks, and make our way to the native house of one of the few Anglo-Saxons residing in the city. We find quarters in a small hotel, also once a native house, kept by a Frenchman, and during the three or four days of our stay find abundance to see and do in this great city.
Osaca comes next of Japanese cities to Yedo in size and importance, and contains a population which has been variously estimated at from 300,000 to 750,000; probably half a million would not be far from the true figures. It has been not inaptly called the Venice of Japan, for it is intersected by a number of branches of the river Yodo-gawa, which flows down from above Kioto, and these form, as do the canals in Venice, important highways. They are, however, broader and cleaner than the drain-like channels (the Grand Canal excepted) which run through the European city; and the sampans which ply on them being all made of unvarnished pine-wood, and floored with neat mats, are, to our eyes, more inviting, and scarcely less shapely, than the gloomy-looking gondolas of the Queen of the Adriatic. On the other hand, the latter need never fear that her architectural beauties are rivalled by any Osaca buildings, for the houses which line the river banks here are nearly all of wood and plaster, and though picturesque in their gables and their balconies, look poor and unsubstantial.
An exception to the last statement must be made in favour of the Daimios' houses and the public offices, which stand on the bank of the main channel through the city, and are strong-looking buildings with solid basements of hewn stone, entered by very handsome and massive
wooden doors overlaid with metal-work. The banks of the river-canals are in most parts well faced with stone, converted into broad flights of stone steps ; bridges of an elegant, highly-arched outline, but of rough timbers, span the waters at intervals of about 200 yards.
But by far the finest specimen of solid building in Osaca is the great moated castle at the north-east end of the city, which, till two years ago, was one of the principal residences of the Shoguns. The castle itself, constructed chiefly of wood, was burnt down soon after the Shogun fled from it in 1868; but there remain intact the three moats, with their walled sides, which rendered it such an impregnable position.
We can only walk round the outer moat, for no foreigner is allowed to enter within its enclosure. One cannot help thinking that the Shogun fled from bere through fear of treachery in his own castle, for this outer moat is as strong a defence against anything short of heavy artillery or starvation as any that a castle could have. It is at most points sixty yards in breadth ; from the brink of the outer wall of it to the surface of the water is a sheer descent of forty feet, while from the top of the inner wall to the same level is at least sixty feet. This inner wall has a graceful sweep outwards at its base, and is surmounted at its various corners by pagoda-shaped towers; both the inner and the outer wall are beautifully constructed of hewn blocks of granite, and some of the blocks are of a size quite Cyclopean. The circumference of this fine moat is nearly a mile and a half; its only weak point seems to be that, instead of being spanned by drawbridges, several solid stone causeways lead across it to the gates of the inner wall.
Within half a mile of the castle, on the opposite side of the Yodo-gawa, is a building of a very different date
and construction, but which, when finished, will also rank as one of the finest buildings in Osaca. It is the Mint, in course of erection by an English engineer, and de ed within one or two years to commence a supply of a new coinage for the Mikado's empire. This new coinage will be very similar to that in circulation at Hongkong, the machinery of the Mint having been constructed originally for Hongkong, but having since been bought by thy Japanese from the English Government.
Osaca covers a great area of ground, and we have to walk through several miles of streets, or be rowed through as many miles of canals, in order to reach some of its most interesting quarters.
A walk of three or four miles southwards from the castle will bring us to the Pagoda, with its surrounding temples. On the way we pass through the Daimios' Street, a broad road lined with trees, and having on either side of it the residences of a number of the feudal nobles. The street is quiet when we pass through; but at times we might see it enlivened by the processions of one or more of the Daimios, riding on a gaily-caparisoned pony, or carried in a 'norimon,' the aristocratie palanquin in Japan, and attended by a score or more of his sworded retainers. We also pass by a great square piece of ground, enclosed by a stiff palisade, which seems to be the Osaca Champ de Mars,' for in it are being drilled about 300 soldiers. They are not dressed in the old style of Japanese warriors, for it has become the fashion with many of the princes to array their men in a European garb, in which it is needless to say they do not look nearly so effective as in their own picturesque costume.
The long walk to the Pagoda is succeeded by an ascent up its inner staircase, which is rewarded by a fine view from the summit over the city, with the plain in which it lies, and the distant surrounding hills. The Pagoda is entirely of wood, and not more than eighty feet in height; immediately around it are several small temples, and close at hand are a number of tea-houses, where we are fain to refresh ourselves with eggs, rice, and 'saki.' There are several family parties of natives engaged in a similar occupation; it would seem that they are in the habit of making excursions to a suburban spot such as this, spending probably part of their time in visits to the temples, and the remainder in strolling about the grounds, taking refreshments in the tea-gardens, or amusing themselves in some quiet manner.
Going westwards from the Pagoda for about three miles, we reach, near the middle of the city, two Sinto temples adjoining each other, good specimens of the best kind of these structures. Each of them is of wood, and stands within a spacious enclosure surrounded by a solid stone wall, which is pierced by a massive porch, elaborately carved and overlaid with metal work. The floor of the temple is covered with finely-plaited and clean mats; the ceiling and the pillars supporting it are of unvarnished pine, the ceiling panelled in a plain but handsome pattern; the shrine, placed against the back wall, within a railed and raised portion of the floor, is handsomely decorated with gilding and painting, and on either side of it are a number of lacquered tables and stools, painted tablets, and bronze lamps. All is clean and fresh-looking.
A number of natives are moving about the enclosures, or looking in at the various smaller shrines; some few are on their knees in the main temple, making their prayers to the patron god or deified hero, and throwing their money contributions into the large chest which stands in
front of the railed portion: a few neatly-dressed priests or temple-keepers are also in attendance.
In a corner of the enclosure of one of the temples is a handscme wooden canopy, under which is hung a large and
a fine-toned bell. In the streets hard by these temples are a number of shops for the sale of minature shrines, lamps, and a great variety of articles used in religious festivals and processions. Among these are a large number of bamboo, wooden, or paper tigers, which are largely used in the Matsuri, or festival, which has been in course of celebration during the last few nights. These Matsuri, though originally of a religious character, like other ancient dramatic festivals, seem now to be little else than holiday fairs, held at fixed times and in fixed places, and comprising theatrical performances, dancing, processions, illuminations, and general merry-making. They are kept under control by a police system, and seem to be of an orderly character.
The streets of Osaca, like those of any large Japanese town, are daily witnesses of sights very similar, and yet very dissimilar, to those which we may see in many European towns. That there is in Japan a complete social system is evident from the existence there of many of the 'hangerson’to society, which can only exist in a civilised country.
As we casually turn the corner of a street we come upon the sound of music, and a few yards away see a man, his face half hidden by an immense plaited bamboo hat of the shape of an upturned bowl, playing on a guitar, while his wife or daughter standing by accompanies his music with her voice.
In another street we find a small crowd of natives collected round a strolling juggler, who is spinning a number of tops in some wonderfully abstruse manner, or