Family: BYRNE, Walter Charles / DRENNAN, Mabel Louise

Family: BYRNE, Walter Charles / DRENNAN, Mabel Louise

m. 6 Jun 1899


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Thursday June 1 (1922)

Dear Children,

Going into Yokohama was some experience.  You have seen so many pictures of Rickshaws. About the first thing we saw was rickshaws. There were 40 or 50 on the dock. They are just like the pictures, like an old-fashioned baby carriage - only large and have shafts in front where the driver runs.  The wheels are as large as carriage wheels with solid rubber tires: folding leather top like the old baby carriage.  The passenger gets in and the "Rickshaw Man" as he is called gets between the shafts, raises them up and away you go on a dog trot. Here in China you pay him from 30 to 50 sen an hour (a sen is about 1/2 cent, so he gets from 15-25 cents an hour). Speaking of shafts, Fernald you can now get the shaft for the wagaon and try Bonnie out.  

Well we went ashore the evening we got in & took rickys & rode up to the middle of the city to "Theatre St." The Japs love movies and while this whole street (perhaps a mile long) is not all theatres, there are many of them. No vehicles may go on this street, so we left them at a corner and walked the length of it & back.  You could find nothing more interesting -- every step of the way. The street (and most Japanese streets) is just about the width of MaKinsy's alley with shops (stores) on either side.  There are no sidewalks, we all walk in the street, which is paved, and all the Japs wear wooden shoes - that is there are two wooden cleats fastened crossways on the sole of the shoe (none on the heel). The cleats are about 1 1/4 inches high (off the ground) and 3/8 inch thick.  Try to imagine the clatter caused by hundreds of these shoes. Clatter, clatter, clatter, clatter, clatter, clatter.  

The Japs wear every kind of dress that is, from America (very few) to almost nothing.  The latter may be a blouse and knee trousers with or without hat, but always the clattering shoes!  Very many of the men wear Kimonos, just like the book pictures. 

When we went to the station to take the train to Kyoto, we had with us a Miss Gray from Oakland who is on the boat bound for Manilla.  She is red-haired and very large, being 5 ft. 11 in. tall and weighs about 185.  Well we arrrived with our Rickshaw Men sweating and about 5 minutes late for the 4 o'clock train, so we took the 4:15.  So we rather rushed into the waiting room and out onto the platform (stone underfoot in the whole station). Imagine trying to find out whether the train had gone or not or which track (there were 5 or 6) was the Kobe train track with no one, even the RR officials, who can speak any of our language.  Well, there were several hundred Japs on their wooden shoes on the platform also waiting, and Miss Gray was likely the largest woman they had ever seen and about 100 of them gathered around us, laughing and jabbering, and sizing us up, espicailly Miss Gray and her red hair.  When we moved they clattered along, talking to one another and laughing at us. 

I suppose we would do the same or something like it if 4 native Japs were to be set down at the SP station in a crowd of our people.  

Well there are so many things to tell I don't know where to begin or stop but we will tell you all about it when we come home.  Just now mother is sitting on the leather settle in the Captain's room, and Uncle Ryland is sitting at his desk and I am writing at his table, and we are carrying on a conversation too.  We have just passed through the narrows of the Japanese Inland Sea.  By the narrows I mean the very narrowest part.  It is all more or less narrow (look at a map going from Kobe to Shanghai). We left Kobe at 4:25 this morning.  We got up to see us go, and will go all day (245 miles)through the inland sea. The scenery, both sides, is very pretty: Green islands, villages, fishing boats, steamers.  The letters we send from Shanghai will be the last we can send you.  It's now lunch hour (1 o'clock). 1 bell has just struck, and the bugle has called lunch. Mother is going to our room to wash up for lunch.

Love to all,

Walter Byrne Letter from Japan

File nameWalter Byrne Letter from Japan.pdf
File Size2.94m
Linked toFamily: BYRNE/DRENNAN (F58)

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