From Sea to Sea XI

(notes by David Page, drawing on the work of the ORG Editors)

Publication History

The edited text largely corresponds with that first published in the Pioneer of 30 July 1889.

Notes on the Text

[Page 313, Epigraph] from Woodnotes II by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82).

[Page 314, line 4] Cortez Hernando Cortez (1485-1547) was the Spanish conqistador who commanded the expedition to explore and conquer Mexico in 1518.

[Page 314, lines 7 & 8] shark-skin swords Japanese weapons where either the sword hilt is covered in shark-skin, the sheath is made from shark-skin, or both.

[Page 314, lines 10 & 11] Nagasaki . . . Kobé Nagasaki is the most westerly port in Japan and one of the original Treaty Ports in the island of Kinshin (Kiushiu), about 360 miles west of Kobé, the great industrial city at the eastern end of the Inland Sea. (See also Chapter XII re Kobé).

[Page 314, line 19] Constitution the so-called Meiji Constitution of February 1889. It was much more German than English.


[Page 314, lines 19 & 20] Imperial Chrysanthemum the sixteen-petalled chrysanthemum was the heraldic symbol of the Imperial Family in Japan

[Page 314, line 32] bund quay or embankment. See earlier notes in Chapters on Hong Kong.




[Page 315, line 3] Vladivostok the Russian port and naval base on the Sea of Japan, about 450 miles from Japan. Building of the Trans-Siberian Railway to provide a communications link between Western Russia and Vladivostok had not begun at this time but it was planned.

[Page 315, line 21 et seq] partly French, partly German, and partly American. There was considerable international meddling taking place in the Far East at this time, with the British, French, Germans, Chinese, and Russians all involved, both making and breaking Treaties. A direct outcome was the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05 in which the Japanese Navy destroyed the Russian Fleet in the Battle of the Japan Sea.

[Page 315, line 25] Mikado the term used by foreigners for the Emperor of Japan.

[Page 315, line 28] ’rickshaw or jinrickshaw in full. It derives from the Japanese word jinrikisha literally meaning ‘man-power-vehicle’. It is a one or two person two-wheeled conveyance pulled by a man.

[Page 315, line 29] Basque the Basque peoples inhabit parts of north-east Spain and south-west France. They speak a non-Aryan language, and are racially distinct from their neighbours, but exactly what Kipling meant by a ‘Basque face’ is open to question.

[Page 315, line 30 et seq] Mikado . . . Pitti-Sing References are to the comic opera of this title by W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), first produced in London in 1885 where it ran for 672 performances. Pitti-Sing was one of the “Three Little Maids from School”.

[Page 316, line 2] clogs In Japan these are called geta, and are rather like a ‘flipflop’ sandal made from wood. The wooden crossbars attached to the base raise the wearer up above the ground.

[Page 316, line 16] Burlington Arcade a shopping arcade (covered pedestrian way) that joins Piccadilly in the West End of London.

[Page 316, line 32] shingled covered with overlapping wooden tiles, often of cedar.

[Page 317, line 8] jimmy and centre-bit a jimmy or jemmy is a metal bar with a chisel edge at one end. A centre-bit is a tool for boring holes in wood.

[Page 317, line 11] tenement a house, apartment (i.e. a flat), or room used by one family.

[Page 317, line 13] bunnia’s shop bunnia is the Hindustani word for a corn and seed merchant or dealer.

[Page 318, line 19] azalea a small shrub with bright flowers like a small rhododendron.

[Page 318, lines 20 & 21] crackle-pot a glazed pot with a crackle finish. This makes it look as though the pot is covered in cracks.

[Page 318, line 30] tulsi basil, a small aromatic herb used for flavouring.

[Page 319, lines 10 & 11] Jesuit missionaries into beefsteak In the first half of the 17th century, Jesuit missionaries from Portugal attempted to infiltrate Japan. If caught they were liable to be subjected to various tortures.

[Page 320, line 5 et seq] Cuckoo Clock Mrs Molesworth (Louisa Mary Stewart, 1839-1921), who wrote the 1877 book, was one of the greatest of Victorian writers for children. Griselda was the central character, who was enabled to become small enough to enter a Japanese cabinet in the drawing room, and, guided by the cuckoo from the clock, found herself in the Land of the Nodding Mandarins.

[Page 320, line 29] bog-trotting moving heavily, as an inhabitant of marshy land.


[Page 321, line 1] Shway Dagon or Shwe Dagon Pagoda at Rangoon. See his letter No. II of this series p. 219 line 1.

[Page 321, line 4] a torii is a gateway to a Shinto shrine, formed by two upright and two horizontal beams, of wood or stone.

[Page 321, line 32] gharri a hired four-wheel carriage.

[Page 321, line 33] stops rings of different sizes which were fitted into the lens aperture of the early cameras to regulate the amount of light entering the camera.

These were eventually replaced with a diaphragm or iris, which meant that the aperture could be varied by simply rotating part of the lens. They are now referred to as ‘f-stops’, the number being the ratio of the focal length of the lens to the diameter of the aperture.

[Page 322, line 9] bronze horse almost certainly Kipling refers to the horse statue at the Suwa Shrine in Nagasaki.

[Page 322, line 14] fossil ivory of Siberia ivory from the tusks of mammoths which died in the last ice age.

The Siberian examples of the Woolly Mammoths are particularly well preserved.




[Page 322, line 15] Prometheus was a son of the Titan Iapetus and Clymene in Greek mythology. He stole fire from the gods and gave it to man, for which act Zeus caused him to be chained to Mt Caucasus where each day an eagle tore out his liver, which was restored again every night.


[Page 323, line 1] tiffin a midday meal in British India.

[Page 323, line 4] gnapi or ngapi or napi, a Burmese delicacy of dried, decomposed and pungently smelling fish.

[Page 323, line 6] Y-Tokai In the original report published in the Pioneer, he is described as: ‘A guide who called himself Y-Tokai, and to whom I commend you, for he speaks but little and knows the town . . .’ Similar opinions of tourist guides were expressed by Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad (1869), but he apparently was less fortunate in finding guides who spoke too much.

[Page 323, line 15] sambhur is the largest of the Indian forest deer.

[Page 323, line 15] The tokonoma is a recess in a Japanese room constituting its focal point and usually containing a hanging scroll picture and a flower arrangement.

[Page 323, line 32] a ‘Penang lawyer’ Hobson-Jobson records this as being the popular name of a handsome and hard (but sometimes brittle) walking stick.It is the stem of a miniature palm ( Licuala acutifida, Griffith).

[Page 325, line 24] Yorkshire pudding a batter pudding cooked to be eaten with roast beef. The dish in Nagasaki was probably kasutera, a sponge cake.

[Page 326, line 3] mustard-sauce this was wasabi. Japanese horseradish mixed with soy sauce.

[Page 326, line 5] saki or sake, a liquor made from rice.

[Page 326, line 7] hock a white wine named after Hockheim in Germany. Often used as a generic term for white wines from the Rhineland.

©David Page 2010 All rights reserved