No. 198.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.

No. 406.]

Sir: In pursuance of the treaty recently concluded between Japan [Page 378] and Corea, the latter has sent hither an embassy, which arrived in this capital on the 29th ultimo.

Supposing the account published in the Japan Daily Herald of that date descriptive of the embassy and of the reception thereof might be of interest, I inclose a copy thereof herewith in duplicate.

I have, &c.,



The Mitsa Bishi Mail Steamship Company’s steamer Korio Marn arrived this morning in port from Kobe, and at 8 a.m. the Corean embassy and suit, seventy-six persons in all, landed at the English hatoba, where a strong police force had collected. Preceded by their own band of music, the Coreans went to the town-hall, whence they again started for the railway-station at 9.45, in order to proceed by train to Tokio. The ambassador is a man of very considerable stature and bulk; he wore a pair of very large spectacles, and was dressed in a violet crape robe. When he emerged from the town-hall and descended the steps, his followers, standing in the street, set up a shout, and the band played on flutes, drums, and tom-toms. The prevailing sound, however, was a lugubrious one, something like the sound from a fog-horn, and was emitted from some large wooden trumpets. The ambassador placed himself on a small seat covered with a tiger-skin, and fixed on an open litter, which was lifted on the shoulders of eight men; aloft, above his head, was carried a large white sunshade. The litter was preceded by the band of music which played the whole way to the station. Immediately before the litter walked two Corean girls, apparently about thirteen to fifteen years of age, in semi-Chinese costume, their hair in a long and thick plait hanging down their backs. After the ambassador’s litter came four jinrikishas, each conveying a Corean; the rest of the suite made their way on foot. The men are tall and stoutly built, with rather a Malay cast of features. With the exception of the litter-carriers, who wore black felt hats, the rest wore small black hats of horse-hair adorned with peacock-feathers; through the meshes of the hat the wearer’s hair was visible, collected in a knot on the top of the head. The dress of the common men is of stout parti-colored cotton, not over-clean. The five men composing the embassy are of the following rank: Shu-shin-shi-reso-sangi, Bakan-do-sha, Kajan-tai-fu, Fahanji-jan-san-pan, Fuku-shiu, Bakan dosha Kangi tai-fu. During the passage in the steamer they most scrupulously avoided partaking of anything of foreign origin, not touching wine or spirits. They would not even examine the vessel when they heard it was English-built.

From our special correspondent.

The Corean embassy arrived in Tokio this morning, by an ordinary train, at a quarter to twelve. Since 8 o’clock a large body of police had been collected in the neighborhood of shinbasi, as it was not then known by what train the strangers were to arrive. Soon after 11 a cordon of police was formed” all the way from the railway-station to the castle gate, called Sukiya Bashi, and their appearance was the signal for the assemblage of an eager crowd. The wide, open space in front of the station was densely packed, and inside the station was a mixed crowd of Japanese and foreigners, among whom were most of the foreign ministers. When the train arrived, the embassy remained in their carriages till the ordinary passengers had passed out, occasioning to the spectators a momentary apprehension that they had had their trouble for nothing. At length the Coreans stepped out on the platform, and a very picturesque appearance they presented, looked at from a distance, reminding one of Italian brigands in a London theater. The costume appears to consist of knickerbockers, with gaiters, tight from the knee to the foot, and a robe of either cotton or silk, fitting tight to the body, with flowing tails. The most striking part of the dress was the hat, which is shaped something like a cardinal’s, with a small crown and large flat brim, but is made of a transparent black gauze, but perfectly stiff; through the hats one could see that the hair is worn twisted up in a tail on the top of the head.

The embassy came along the platform in state. First, fourteen band-men, then flag-bearers and spearmen, then two women, with their black hair loosely plaited into tails like those of Chinamen, then a big umbrella, and then the great man himself. He was assisted, that is, literally supported, by two other richly dressed men, and followed by several others, who were evidently men of consideration. The cortege was closed by [Page 379] nine bearers carrying a chair, which was very much like a temple (kiyoku-roku) put on a large and fragile stand. The music was shrill, harsh, and discordant, at least to our ears. A friend with musical proclivities assured us that some of the sounds were sweeter than those of Japanese instruments. The men were tall and well set up—many of them old men, who wore a Tartar beard and moustache. They stepped firmly as they walked, and seemed perfectly satisfied with themselves and indifferent to the laughter which the Japanese indulged in. They were conducted to the waiting-rooms in the railway-station, and, after a few minutes’ interval for rest, they set out for the residence which has been prepared for them in Kanda Nishiki Cho, in much the same order as they had marched up the platform. A detachment of the imperial mounted body-guard headed the procession, and the chief ambassador, a tall, stout, handsome old man, with huge spectacles, rode in his open chair, towering above the heads of the bearers. The superior members of his suite, several of whom had peacock-feathers in their hats, followed him in jinrikishas, and the interpreters, of whom there were a crowd, had enough to do to start them according to their precedence. One nice-looking young Corean was evidently much exercised in his mind at the misplaced zeal of his jinrikisha coolie, who would try and start before his turn. All, however, was finally happily arranged, and the cortege wound its slow way without mishap to the residence set apart for the embassy.