Traveling With a Troupe

By Putt Mossman, Photography by Unknown

The second storm lasted four days, to be immediately followed by a third, just as severe, but lacking the rain which had kept us indoors or on sheltered parts of the deck. So we spent hours watching the seas churn and boil about us, occasionally crashing over the gunwale. Our mileage was cut down, and we arrived two days later than schedule.

The day before we docked was momentous, as we eagerly watched for signs of Japan. Nineteen days on the water without so much as seeing a single ship or a bit of land! Columbus had nothing on us as we eagerly scanned the horizon for the first faint sign. The sun shone and we hustled around exercising our long dormant muscles. Late in the afternoon we sighted the northeastern coast of Japan. We started and strained our eyes until night when the shore lights sprung up and we stayed up late to view our entrance into the harbor. At last we went to bed for the last time aboard the little ship that had withstood so much and brought us safely to our destination.

Much too early we were awakened. The day was freezing cold. The docks and warehouses had a thin coating of snow which a fine drizzle soon changed into slush. So, through a hectic day of customs, photographs and official greetings, combined with unpleasant weather, our first day was anything but impressive. But the second day the sun shone, and the dripping shrubs and trees were glistening and fragrant. We were amazed at the modernity of a land we had believed so far behind the times.

The first week was spent in supervising the construction of our stadium and getting our equipment into first-class condition. But what little we did see of the Japanese was wonderful to behold.

Perhaps the first thing one notices in Japan are the costumes. The beautiful kimonos and obis worn by the women, and the strange skirts and capes worn by the men. Peculiar flat sandals are in evidence on both sexes, with straps which come up between the large and second toe, and which loop over the instep to be fastened on the sandal again at the arch. The stockings are split like a glove between the toes to accommodate the strap. In wet weather the shoes are made of wood, and are built on stilts two or three inches in height. But it would be wrong to say that all are dressed like this, because at least twenty-five per cent of them wear as stylish and modern dress as any in America. It is all a matter of preference, and the American influence of style and dress is becoming more and more apparent all the time. With this last change, Japan will have lost a great deal of its charm for me.

The opening day ceremony was impressive. City, provincial, and government officials from the farthest regions of Japan were present. The stands were packed to overflowing, and after a series of welcoming and inaugural speeches, the American Rodeo gave its first performance. Although we were handicapped by the poor condition of the track and field, the show did not lag, and we found that we were much appreciated. The Japanese people do not express appreciation through handclapping and cheering, and although we were dismayed at the beginning of the performance, we soon discovered indirectly that our show was liked.

So through the succeeding days the routine of stunt riding, balloon bursting, polo and exhibition racing remained unchanged, and as the track and field conditions improved, our show also was better.

Rain hounded us the first month, but the show had to go on. Our mud-bespattered selves and machines went through many a hectic performance, replete with spills, but fortunately no serious injuries resulted.

By Putt Mossman
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