Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Diplomats under Surveillance

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Diplomats under Surveillance

Article excerpt

Diplomats under surveillance

THERE were about forty of us altogether, all in Japanese dress, and we must have been a curious sight walking around London and Paris with two swords hanging at our side. Before we left Japan we were told that we would have the greatest difficulty in getting supplies abroad. So we were provided with several hundred boxes of white rice for the journey, and to light the corridors in inns at night we were given dozens of specially made "metal lanterns"--lanterns with two square legs, surrounded by mesh--plus a whole assortment of portable lanterns, candelabra, standing lanterns and candles. In short, what was loaded onto the ship was doubtless intended to correspond to what a daimyo and his retinue would need in the coaching inns of the Tokaido.

On our arrival in Paris, and after the customary salutations, the first request made to the official who received us was that the accommodation of the attendants should not be too far away from the residence of the heads of mission, which meant that the latter did not feel very secure and intended to keep their escort close at hand. Our most immediately agreed and asked how many of us there were. When he learned that there were some thirty of us he replied that if there were not more of us than that, ten or twenty groups like our could be put up in a single hotel. This reply left us flabbergasted. Whereupon we were conducted to the hotel where we were to stay. This was the Hotel du Louvre, at the very gates of the Palace, an imposing five-storey building containing no less than six hundred rooms and with a staff of over five hundred. It could easily accommodate a thousand guests, so that the Japanese mission passed unnoticed there and our sole concern was not to get lost in the corridors. Warm air circulated in the rooms, where neither stove nor radiator was to be seen. Rooms and corridors were lighted by countless gaslamps and one hardly noticed the coming of night. Every kind of food from the seas and mountains was available in the dining room to satisfy our appetites, and the worst detractors of the barbarous West forgot their prejudices while enjoying these exquisite dishes. So we were hampered by all this baggage that we had been dragging around with us since we had left Japan. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.