Isabella has decided to use her privilege to help the horses by going to the corral herself to choose her mount. Her goal is to select one without a sore back, but the choice is usually between one with a raw spot and those who have “holes in their backs into which I could put my hand, or altogether uncovered spines. The practice does no immediate good, but by showing the Japanese that foreign opinion condemns these cruelties an amendment may eventually be brought about.”
She’s currently in Horobets* and it is, of course, pouring rain once again. She is offered 20 horses to choose from and none is in good shape. “I should like to have them all shot,” she says.**
More are driven down from the hills. “I chose the largest and finest horse I have seen in Japan, with some spirit and action, bit I soon found that he had tender feet,” she says. With that and the buckets of rain, the ride was less than fun. The horse fell five times; she fell a few more, but they made it to their destination: Old Mororan, which is a village of 30 Ainu and 9 Japanese houses.
She and Ito settle in for the night. They use a wooden frame placed over a charcoal brazier to try to dry out their bedding and clothing. Ito buys a chicken for their dinner, “but when he was going to kill it an hour later its owner in much grief returned the money, saying she had brought it up and could not bear to see it killed. This is a wild, outlandish place, but an intuition tells me that it is beautiful.”
* You might have noticed that the places she visits in Hokkaido have -bets in their name. Good eye! That ending is common in the North.
** because the last two entries have been gruesome, let me distract you with one of the more horrifying mascots I’ve seen: Melon Kuma from Yubari City, which isn’t that far from where Isabella currently is.