Japanese Politeness

Illustration from “Rambles in Japan”, by H B Tristram, 1895

Windows into Japan 3Last week I quoted from Anna D’a’s A Lady’s Visit to Manilla and Japan, published in 1863, as part of our themed Japanese month on Windows into History.  Before we move on to a different writer, let’s look at one more quote from D’a, concerning her arrival in Japan and how impressed she was with the Japanese:

As soon as the vessel was anchored the Japanese officials came on board, seemingly fearful of losing a moment in making the necessary inquiries.

One, who spoke pretty tolerable English, acted as interpreter for the rest, a second read aloud some questions in Japanese, which the other explained, and all the answers seemed perfectly satisfactory. Then after partaking of cake and wine, which, by the liberality of our captain, they were offered, and evidently thoroughly enjoyed, they very politely bowed and departed, leaving an officer on board, who was to remain during the time the vessel was anchored in the harbour.

There is a perceptible difference between the Chinaman and the Japanese. The contrast never strikes one so forcibly as on first arriving in Japan after leaving China. The people we have left behind are surly, impertinent, independent, self-sufficient, in their manner towards foreigners; whilst those among whom we now are, poor and rich alike, have an innate politeness which is exceedingly pleasing, and address strangers in a respectful manner but rarely witnessed on the other side of the water.


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About Roger Pocock

Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com Co-writer on junkyard.blog Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in 19th Century, Books, History, Japan, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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