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General Grant's Wisdom

 
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nagaeyari
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 12:40 pm    Post subject: General Grant's Wisdom Reply with quote
I was reading Anna C. Hartshorne's "Japan and Her People" just now and came across this passage:

"Where Shodo Shonin went over on the rainbow snakes stands the famous Sacred Bridge, once reserved for the Shogun—representative of the Emperor—now for the Emperor himself and the imperial family. It was here that General Grant won everlasting honor for himself and his people by declining an invitation to cross."

Do you think General Grant was advised by someone as to how to win Japan's favor? Do you think he didn't want to cross because he had no interest and inadvertantly became a respected figure? Does anyone have any information?
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Obenjo Kusanosuke
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 2:32 pm    Post subject: Re: General Grant's Wisdom Reply with quote
nagaeyari wrote:
I was reading Anna C. Hartshorne's "Japan and Her People" just now and came across this passage:

"Where Shodo Shonin went over on the rainbow snakes stands the famous Sacred Bridge, once reserved for the Shogun—representative of the Emperor—now for the Emperor himself and the imperial family. It was here that General Grant won everlasting honor for himself and his people by declining an invitation to cross."

Do you think General Grant was advised by someone as to how to win Japan's favor? Do you think he didn't want to cross because he had no interest and inadvertantly became a respected figure? Does anyone have any information?


I think there is another book that deals with the visits of distinguished foreign guests to the land of Meiji-- it was published by Tuttle, but I can't remember the name of the book up the name of the book on the net. Perhaps this deals with it, or it could be that Grant was just too drunk to walk? Just Kidding
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nagaeyari
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Well, my guess is he was too drunk, declined the offer, and was reasonably pleased with all the "oohs" and "aahs" he got from the Japanese Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Great Wave (Gilded Age misfits, Japanese eccentrics and the Opening of Old Japan) by Christopher Benfey (Random House 2003) mentions this episode too. Edward Morse, the shell collector, tea pottery collector and all round-interested-in-everything sort of guy, observed that Grant "known for his drinking, was moderate and well-behaved" during a reception at Ueno Park shortly after he returned from Nikko. So perhaps drunkenness can be ruled out on this occasion Laughing But you can imagine Grant loftily declining to walk as Nagaeyari suggests (while swaying slightly - Grant not Nagaeyari) and then realising he had (as so often) made an instinctive Good Decision, and making sure everyone knew about it.

I've read about this somewhere else recently and will see if I can track it down
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nagaeyari
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Great Wave was very enjoyable book. It was well-written.
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I learn new things every day. I never knew that Grant had ever visited Japan. Surprised
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Apparently Grant was very popular with the Meiji Government, having warmly received the Iwakura mission in 1871 and going on to offer a lot of practical help. So if anyone told him about the traditions at Nikko it could have been Iwakura Smile . There's some more information about how the Japanese treated Grant almost as a god, surprising even the Americans, in Clara's Diary, as well as some gossip about Mrs Grant - "altogether a goodhearted woman, but not one to strike awe into any beholder. It is evident from what rank in life she has risen for she has very few ladylike traits," writes young Clara with her usual honesty.

But really this should be in some other section as it happened in 1879 Very Happy

Quote:
The Great Wave was very enjoyable book. It was well-written.


It's great, isn't it? I really like the way he links everyone up so you see how people were influenced in their interest in Japan.
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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
According to Waler LaFeber in The Clash Iwakura was very conscious of the need to adapt to Western habits and made a point "not to take along soy sauce, sandals, kimonos or pickles" on the mission overseas in 1873 . "Iwakura made the single mistake of wearing a traditional silk kimono for a formal negotiating session with President Ulysses S. Grant. Realizing his error in wearing 'what to our eyes appeared a grotesque costume', as one Washington observer recorded, the delegation never again appeared in, as the American termed it, 'feminine garments of silks and satins.'"

So Iwakura was extremely conscious of differences between East and West, and did not want Grant to make the same embarrassing mistakes he had. That's my theory, anyway Laughing
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