Important acquisitions

Japan from India: letters & notes of the journey of two travellers, chiefly by one of them.

Author Anderson, Grace Scott & John
Title Japan from India: letters & notes of the journey of two travellers, chiefly by one of them.
Imprint [Calcutta?: privately printed]
Date of Publication [1884]
Language English
Notes This is an unrecorded, privately-printed account of a journey to Japan in 1884, made by the eminent Scottish zoologist, Dr John Anderson (1833-1900) and his wife, Grace (1834-1917). Anderson was at the time based in Calcutta, where he had lived for 20 years and was working as Superintendent of the Indian Museum and professor of comparative anatomy at the medical school. He had devoted his career to studying the zoology and ethnology of the Far East, having already gone on three arduous, and at times dangerous, scientific expeditions to China and Burma during his time in India. The trip to Japan was a more leisurely affair. The anonymous account printed here is a mixture of a travel journal, written by Grace Anderson, who addresses her chapters to a relative or friend called Isabella, with two additional, more scholarly, chapters written by Anderson (referred to in the text as "J.A."). The Andersons' journey started from Calcutta on March 15 with the first destination being the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they met the governor (and fellow Scot), Col. Thomas Cadell. During their stay they visited the penal colony at Port Blair. After a stay in Rangoon, Burma, they moved on to Penang in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canton (Guangzhou), Grace making frequent comparisons with the landscape she saw in the course of her travels and that of her native Scotland. In May they arrived in Japan, which was the Anderson's main destination. The majority of the book is accordingly devoted to their travels in the Japanese islands with descriptions of the scenery, wildlife, local customs, religion and food. The final chapter in the book is written by John Anderson and concerns their visit to the island of Yezo (Hokkaido) from August to October. He cites a number of other contemporary authors who had written on Japan, including Isabella Bird's 'Unbeaten tracks in Japan' (first published in 1880). Clearly inspired by Bird's travels among the indigenous Ainu people, much of this chapter is taken up with a description of the Ainu. Anderson adopts a relatively neutral tone throughout his account, but, as already described by Isabella Bird, Anderson shows that the Ainu were suffering under the direct Japanese control of the island imposed after 1869. He describes a people living in squalor, unable to practise some of their local customs, and blighted by their addiction to alcohol. Anderson was able to get a letter of introduction from an English Anglican missionary, the Rev. John Batchelor, to meet an Ainu chief Peuri who figured prominently in Bird's 'Unbeaten tracks'. Peuri would appear to have been the "Benri" described by Bird as a "superb but dissipated-looking savage". Not long after his return to Calcutta in 1886, Anderson resigned from his posts and returned to Britain, where he settled in London. He devoted the rest of his life to studying the fauna of North Africa, although for the rest of his life he was in poor health. He and his wife are buried in the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. In his obituary in the 'Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal' (1902) it is stated that he travelled with his wife to Japan after his retirement from his jobs in Calcutta, the existence of this account shows that in fact he made the journey before his retirement.
Shelfmark AB.2.214.28
Reference Sources Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on 06/06/14
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