In 1909, the Moscow-based Society for the Propagation of Technical Knowledge began to organise educational tours, principally within Europe. Anyone was eligible to participate, though primary school teachers and paramedical personnel received a discount on the tour price. In the first three years the society ran eighty-eight separate excursions for a total of 4029 people from all over the Russian empire. For the 1913 season the society offered a trip to Japan for the first time. The group of forty-nine Russians, including E. Kobiakova, whose first impressions are given below, spent twenty-three days in Japan. After landing at Tsuruga, they travelled by train to Gifu, Tokyo, Nikko, Kamakura, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka, and then sailed down the Inland Sea to Moji, and finally departed from Nagasaki. Kobiakova's account is notable for the extent to which she creates for herself a specifically 'tourist' experience. 1
The journey is over! The great endless journey across Siberia - steppe, taiga, Lake Baikal, mountains again and steppe - all this seemed to drag on interminably, yet at the same time to flash by at great speed …
Our steamer has stopped in the Tsuruga roadstead and Japan lies before us. We can see her shores and in half an hour we will, so to speak, take possession of her with our senses.
And what a long way we have come, and from what different places! Petersburg, Samara, Yakutsk, the Caucasus - we have been drawn by distance, by a thirst to see the unknown and to live, if only for a few weeks, in a way we have never lived before.
A group of Japanese has appeared on the steamer. A whole deputation sent by the Russia-Japan Society to meet us. 2 We have made our first acquaintance. The Japanese look at us with curiosity, and we at them. We try to start a conversation and venture 'konnichi-wa' (hello), 'ohayo' (good morning) and 'arigato' (thank you) - words we had learned in Vladivostok. The Japanese are