Near the Meganebashi bridge, there is an old shop of the article of tortoise shell. The history of the article of tortoise shell was very old, in 604 lute that decorated by tortoise shell was bought to Japan (you can watch this lute at Nara’s Shosoin exhibition.), and Portuguese bought them to Nagasaki where was a harbor of trade in 16 century. They were very expensive (now more than $1,000 even a small piece), so Edo Shogunate prohibited to buy them for samurai because of the saving their daily money. Now the commerce of hawksbill turtle is strictly banned for their protection, so this shops articles’ material are only stock.
At the corner of history of this shop, I found the old photo of the last Russia’s emperor Nicholai Aleksandrovich Romanov, Nicholas II of Russia (Николай II, at that time he was crown prince) who traveled Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Kobe, Kyoto and Shiga prefecture of Japan, in April 1891. He is said to be found of the French Pierre Loti’s novel “Madame Chrysanthème” (in 1887) which was based on his experience of Japan and had a great influence on “Madame Butterfly”. Nicholai enjoyed the journey and so pleased Nagasaki article of tortoise shell so much that he bought some articles. After returning, he invited the shop owner in Russia. That photo was given to the ower from Nicholai.
After visiting Kyoto and Shiga’s lake Biwa cruise, he went to Otsu city in Shiga prefecture. When he was passing by the town, a Japanese guard policeman Sanzo Tsuda suddenly attacked him by the saber. Nicholas got hurt but was in no danger of dying. This attack was so-called the Otsu Incident. Japanese government, most of Japanese people and Meiji emperor were astonished this incident and worried about the Russia’s revenge, so many many get-well telegrams were sent to his hotel of Kyoto, and Meiji emperor soon visited him with his brothers. Japanese 27-year-old lady Yuko Hatakeyama was killed by herself for apology to Russia in front of the Kyoto government office. Although Japanese government wanted to kill criminal Tsuda in order to calm Russia’s anger, Mr. Iken Kojima, officer of the court, resisted the pressure and protected the independence of judicial powers as the Modern law-governing country, that he judged Tsuda’s life imprisonment. The history is very interesting, in 100 years, the handkerchief stanching the blood of Nicholas at that incident (it had been preserved at Otsu city) used to research of his DNA for confirming his family’s bone who were killed at the Russian Revolution.
After this shop, I passed by the Dejima island where was artificial island to live the traders from Holland or China during the islation period (1639-1853).