Tomorrow, Isabella will make it to Aomori, which will be her last stop before taking the ferry to the wilds of Hokkaido.* Today, however, she set off in a kuruma into the wilds around her for some sightseeing without Ito along for the ride.
The kuruma runner was “a nice, kind, and merry creature, quite delighted, Ito said, to have a chance of carrying so great a sight as a foreigner into a district which no foreigner has even been seen. In the absolute security of Japanese traveling, which I have fully realised for a long time, I look back upon my fears a Kasukabe with a feeling of self-contempt.”
The scenes around her are lovely. The sun is out and illuminating shades of cobalt and indigo, green blues and blue greens. “A simple, home-like region, a very pleasant land,” she says.
During her trip, she passes through very small villages. The houses are mud. The thatch is “rude.” No windows and, generally, no smoke-holes, so the houses “smoked all over like brick-kilns.” Horses and chickens live on one side of the house; the people on the other. Their horses and crops look good, she says.
On her way back through these same villages in the evening, she saw “unclothed men and women, nude to their waists, were sitting outside the dwellings with the small fry, clothed only in amulets, about them, several big yellow dogs forming part of each family group, and the faces of the dogs, children, and people were all placidly contented!”
In the heart of the wilderness, the found “a fine flight of moss grown steps down to the water, a pretty bridge, two superb stone torii, some handsome stone lanterns, and then a grand flight of steep stone steps up a hillside dark with cryptomeria leads to a small Shinto shrine. Not far off there is a sacred tree, with the token of love and revenge upon it. The whole place is entrancing.”