Thursday, 17 July 2014
July 17th #chinadiary
However, the most interesting thing by far was watching the women coaling his ship - something that is new to me, too, and I found a postcard here from 1910 that shows the women passing coal up the stairways in baskets "which hold I suppose 20-25 pounds of coal, and the baskets move along the line as fast and as regularly as if it were a machine conveyor .... they were passing fifty five baskets to the minute, almost one per second." Carl feels very guilty watching their arduous labour and meditates on the fact that he is partly responsible for those conditions, which are of course to provide his transport back to the USA.
In Tokyo, he visits the Osakusa Temple, which he found to be "a terribly cheap and tawdry place" - which sounds pretty judgemental and is seemingly based on the fact that people visit in order to cure themselves of various maladies. He also catches the Tokyo Peace Exposition, "which is a great industrial exposition if everything made in Japan." How things change, as Carl notes that the Japanese "have a bad reputation for making things that are 'just as good'".