Baylor College Medical School

The First Japanese Visit to America

All of us wore the usual pair of swords at our sides and the (rope) sandals. So attired, we were taken to the modern hotel. There we noticed, covering the interior, the valuable carpets which in Japan only the more wealthy could buy. Here the carpet was laid over an entire room-something quite astounding-upon this costly fabric walked our hosts wearing the shoes with which they had come in from the streets!

One evening our hosts said that some ladies and gentlemen were having a dancing party and that they would be glad to have us attend it. We went. To our dismay we could not make out what they were doing. The ladies and gentlemen seemed to be hopping about the room toethr. As funny as it was, we knew it would be rude to laugh, and we controlled our expressions with difficulty as the dancing went on. These were but a few of the instances of our bewilderment at the strange customs of American society.

When we were taking our leave, our host and hostess kindly offered us horses to ride home on. This pleased us...We touched whip to the horses and rode back to our quarters at a trot. The Americans watched us and ex-claimed at the Japanese ability in riding. So neither of us really knew much about the other after all....

Things social, political, and economic proved most inexplicable. One day, on a sudden thought, I asked a gentleman where the descendants of George Washington might be. He replied, "I think there is a woman who is directly descended from Washington. I don't know where she is now, but I think I have heard she is married." His answer was so very casual that it shocked me.

Of course, I knew that American was a republic with a new president every four years, but I could not help feeling that the family of Washington would be revered above all other families. My reasoning was based on the reverence in Japan for the founders of the great line of rulers....

Question 1. What does Fukuzawa conclude about the Americans and the Japanese?

Question 2. Why is Fukuzawa surprised that the gentleman did not know much about George Washington's descendants?

Question 3. Based on American reactions described in this excerpt, can you please write a short journal entry that an American might have written after seeing or meeting the Japanese diplomats.

Thank you,

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1) "So neither of us really knew much about the other after all..."

2) He believed that because Washington was the first president, the American people would revere him above all others.

".....the family of Washington would be revered above all other families."

3) No, I cannot write your assignment, but you might want to include what an American would find interesting in the portrayal of the diplomats. The clothing, the shoes, the swords...... these are all things we don't see everyday.

I'm sure the Americans were stunned at the fact the Japanese did not participate in the danicing. Truth be told...... they would have looked shocked at the American dance (behavior). Thus, you might want to include a description on their reactions.