In 1860 the Tokugawa government in Japan sent ambassadors to the United States of America to exchange of ratifications covered in the Treaty of Peace and Amity negotiated with U.S. Consul Townsend Harris, and to formalize relations between the U.S. and Japan. Two ships carrying Americans and the Japanese ambassadorial delegation embarked on a journey that would change history. One of the ships, the U.S.S. Powhatan, stopped in Hawaii with the Japanese Embassy for about ten days.
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From Our Own Correspondent.
San Francisco, Cal., Tuesday, March 20, 1860.
Day before yesterday our people were informed that a snug, neat craft was steaming through the Golden Gate and up the harbor, bearing at her mizzen a white flag with a red ball in the centre, and at her main a white lozenge ground in a circle of red. The telegraph has shuttered and stammered and told untruths enough about the stranger to excite extraordinary curiosity.
As the steamer came to an anchor the news flew about town that she was a Japanese corvette, the Candinmarruh, a three-year-old Dutch-built vessel, from a land that never sent a craft abroad before, having on board an Admiral with an outrageous name, a full complement of officers and seventy men; also, Lieut. Brooke and Mr. Keno, (artist), and nine of the crew of the little schooner Fennimore Cooper, that was wrecked some months ago on the Japan coast.
The object of this unheralded visit was to announce the approach, and, on their arrival, to return with tidings of the safety of the grand Embassy, now every day due by the steamer Powhatan from the Japanese Government to ours.
It seems that the Candinmarruh was sent ahead because our Lieut. Brooke was there to pilot her over and to insure a gracious reception of her representative officers and crew. A visit on board was like a trip to Kanagawa. The Admiral KEMAURATONOKAME -who, by the way, is no sailor, but a Provincial Governor, of the rank of Commodore, and was selected for this mission that our high and mighty men-of-war might feel that they talked with their equals when they met him- sat on the floor of his cabin as we entered, enjoying the attentions of a hair-dresser. The Captain, (KATSINTARBOH) was in but poor health. He looks marvelously like COL. FREMONT, talks English intelligibly, and has a great reputation, at home, of being a great astronomer.
The officers all wore two swords, of polished steel, with milk-white, shark-skin covered handles. Except for their elaborately dressed hair and their embroidered sandals, in their undress they looked not very unlike the uniformed officers of our navy. The marines were clothed in dark blue frocks; each with his rank and style of his service written on a patch between his shoulders, and in blue flowing trowsers. The sailors looked much like Chinamen, but all were cleanly, active, curious, and polite.
To the Americans on board, the after cabin and servants n abundance had been surrendered on the voyage, which was 37 days long, and to the American sailors, who had helped work the ship, the Admiral came down liberally with the coins, as a present, on leaving. There were no idols on board, of course, no hints of any religious faith, though prayers in the forecastle, our people say, they had often heard. Chairs and tables were no part of the furniture. They fed on cured fish, rice, vegetables and tea. The chopsticks stood instead of knives and forks.
Some of the officers came on shore under guidance of Lieut. BROOKE, on Saturday night, eat a Christian dinner at a hotel, and experienced the luxury of ice creams. When invited to a bath, they declined, on the ground that the Admiral must precede them in any such privilege.
Next day was Sunday. Our city officials knew scarcely what to do. If they invited the distinguished Pagans to Church, it might alarm their sensitiveness, for they have had a national experience with Jesuits; if they ignored all church going, it would scarcely be the thing for a Christian city's fathers. At last, four of the Supervisors, headed by their President, TESCHEMAKER, (we have no Mayor, you know,) were rowed off of the corvette- were announced as of rank enough to talk familiarly with even the Admiral, were graciously saluted, and then invited the strangers to see the city under their escort. The Admiral agreed, but it took half an hour to manage the order of the going. The Admiral proposed to take his own boat and certain of his men; he invited TESCHEMAKER to ride with him, but would not hear of the proposition that "his men" should go too. Lieut. BROOKE had a hard job of it to convince his Honor that TESCHEMAKER was no better than "his men," to wit, the other Supervisors. Finally, the Admiral and the President were rowed off together, and "the men" of the two officials dispatched in another boat.
On landing, our President politely leaped out ahead, to help the Admiral out, and had a narrow escape of giving offense by thus taking the precedence. The two walked up side by side mutely; the others, in careful order of rank- the democratic crowd humoring the strange notions of etiquette by opening for the noble gentlemen to pass to their carriages. Here another half-hour was spent in getting the right order of rank.
Then up to the International parlors. Fortunately our modest little Irish Governor, DOWNEY, was in town. Hearing what was up, he went over to honor the occasion. Entering with a single companion, it took all the faith of the strangers could command to believe that a little man with a black coat, with no retinue, could be a genuine Governor. When it was fairly comprehended, and the interpreter had turned certain classical Japanese into broken English and sundry Californian Executive compliments into Japanese, the Admiral expressed a desire that the Governor would order a dry-dock prepared to give the corvette a thorough overhauling -explaining so clearly that no interpreter was needed to render it, that the Yankees should not be out of pocket for their courtesy in this business. His Excellency, with a straight face, signified that it should be done as promptly as the lumber-schooners now occupying the dry-dock could be got ready to launch.
While these two high grands thus consulted, the other officials, returning to the carriages, were being conveyed through the principle streets, in sight of the crouching lions, past the churches and hotels, around the plaza, over Rincon Hill, and to Steamboat Point. Here is being constructed a magnificent boat for the Sacramento route - a sort of a New World or Isaac Newton. One glance sufficed for their expression of admiration, and then they returned to business. The whole corps of foreigners pulled out note-books and pencils, divided into companies, cut the boat into sections and each sketched his share. They made measurements, took drafts, copied curves, and did not cease until satisfied that putting their work together, they could construct the counterpart of the Crysopolis at home.
By the way, Mr. KENO says the Japanese, in coming over, showed themselves experts in every department of engineering, but not extraordinary as sailors. It was not until they had been several days at sea that they consented to divide into watches, -it was a new idea to them; but when they had tried it a day, they seemed to relish it wonderfully. They had Dutch chronometers on board, and gave evidence of a Dutch education. Back to the hotel, they dined, rather awkwardly handling our unequal and barbarous chopsticks, but managing notwithstanding to do justice to their dinner. They marched back after dark to the boats, their path illuminated with paper lanterns.
Yesterday, a grand salute was fired in their honor, and returned in sort. The officers visited several foundries and ship-yards. To-day they inspect the fortifications of the harbor and the national vessel in port. They will, while here, be publicly received and be subjected to the inevitable hand-shaking of the Democracy.