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Visit to the Ruijio

The Evening Post
Ballarat 1881
Thursday April 28th

Accepting the cordial invitation of Captain Fukushima, a number of Ballarat residents yesterday paid a visit to the Japanese war ship Ruijio, now lying in Hobson’s Bay. The company comprised the Mayor of Ballarat City and town, several councilors, the town clerks of both municipalities, representatives of the Ballarat Yacht Club, private citizens, and a number of ladies, the majority of whom proceeded to Melbourne by the first train.

The invitation was given as an acknowledgement of the manner in which the officers were treated on their recent visit to Ballarat, and the reception and entertainment given by Captain Fukushima and his officers was  genuine and kindly as could be wished… The weather was unfortunately moist and chilly, rain falling throughout the greater portion of the day, but this did not deter a gathering of some 30 ladies and gentlemen at the flinders street station – the company being swelled by a number of Ballarat folk on a visit to the metropolis and friends, including Mr Walker (late of the firm of Walker and Hickman) who after his recent visit to Ballarat, is en route to his home, in Queensland.

Arrived at Sandridge the party was met by a number of officers of the ship, and conducted to the railway pier, where well-manned boats were waiting to take the visitors on board. Here they were received at the gangway and conducted to a saloon – a commodious and beautifully fitted up apartment. The whole of the party having assembled a tour of inspection of the ship was made under the guidance of the officers, who seemed never tired of pointing out and explaining the numerous objects of curiosity.

The Ruijio is an Aberdeen wooden-built frigate of 1500 tons, and is most completely fitted out with all the European appliances of war of recent manufacture. The crew and officers number 365, among whom are a large number of cadets – the vessel being used as a training ship… All on board, with the exception of three Europeans, (a sailor master and two instructors) are Japanese – engineers included. The officers have all graduated at a naval college in their own college in their own country, under British instructors, and the working of the ship is performed in English, both in language and custom, and this together with the uniform gives the observer a good notion of the British war vessel.

The visitors having been treated to a display of gun exercises, which was smartly executed they were invited to partake of a luncheon spread in the saloon, and which was composed of an ample supply of cakes, fruit, and confectionary, with as much wine as was required.

Lunch having been partaken of, Captain Fukushima proposed “The health of the visitors” in Japanese, which was translated to the effect that he welcomed the visitors, but could not entertain as well as he and his officers had been treated in Ballarat. The toast was drunk with cheers in the Japanese fashion: after which Mayor Lewis rose to present the Captain with a large portfolio containing a splendid collection of photographic views of Ballarat and its surroundings, given by Captain Morey, as acting commodore of the Ballarat yacht club, in recognition of the trophy given to the club by Captain Fukushima, and as a momento of the recent visit to Ballarat. In doing so the Mayor took occasion to remark on the benefits socially and commercially which would result from an interchange of visits between Japan and the colonies.

The Captain made a suitable acknowledgment expressing the great pleasure he felt in receiving such a beautiful present, which would be a continual reminder of his late visit and the great kindness and hospitality received at the hands of the people of Ballarat. He then presented Captain Morey with two very fine Japanese vases, as a trophy for the club, and as acknowledgement of the kindness shown him. Captain Morey returned thanks, and expressed a hope that he might see the Captain and officers at Ballarat at some future time.

A number of very nice presents were given to the lady visitor, and the party were afterwards treated to a display of fireworks, similar to those enumerated in last evening’s Post. This was followed by a series of grand passages of arms in the form of two handed long sword exercises, the weapon being represented by bamboos. The combatants were fitted with masks, head coverings, breastplates, and pads, and the skill and agility displayed was remarkably good. Judging by the manner in which the several combatants used the weapons, and inexperienced man would speedily be placed hors de combat in such an encounter – the blows and thrusts being given with a skill and force that more than once brought one or other of those engaged to their knees.

Amongst those who assisted materially to the pleasure of the visit was Mr White, one of the agents of the vessel, who accompanied the Japanese to Ballarat, and Mr Marks, the Japanese consul, who came on board in his own yacht towards the close of the visit.

Shortly after four o’clock the visitors returned to Sandridge accompanied by a number of officers, who gave three cheers on the departure of the train. Everyone of the company expressed themselves as highly delighted with the visit, and the kindness and courtesy of the entertainers, which certainly could not be excelled.

(Author’s note: The original article as transcribed from The Evening Post article was in one continuous writing, the author breaking the passage into paragraphs for ease of reading).

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