National / History | JAPAN TIMES GONE BY

Emperor Yoshihito’s coronation; crowds pack Tokyo dance halls before ban; Hikari superexpress now world’s fastest; nearly 600 dolphins slaughtered in Nagasaki

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Thursday, Nov. 11 1915

‘Divine’ Coronation for Emperor Yoshihito

The Coronation of His Majesty the Emperor Yoshihito, the 123rd Emperor in an unbroken line of illustrious sovereigns, was held today in the ancient Imperial Palace in Kyoto with impressive simplicity befitting the solemn occasion.

The day opened with the weather fair and calm and the preparations for the morning ceremony passed off without a hitch.

The great ritual service before the “Kashiko-dokoro,” enshrined in the Shunko-Den, began at eight o’clock this morning.

At this important ceremonial, Emperor Yoshihito formally acquired the Three Sacred Treasures — the Divine Sword, Jewel and Mirror — and reported before his ancestral spirit, the “Kashiko-dokoro,” the fact of his succession to the great and time-honored heritage. His Majesty then fervently prayed for the prosperity of his reign.

In the spacious compound before the Imperial Sanctuary, sheds were built for the accommodation of persons entitled to be present at this ritual service. Here assembled this morning most prominent men of the Empire as well as the diplomatic representatives of foreign powers.

Glittering gold lace on the civilians’ full dresses and the brilliant decorations worn by military and naval officers served to embellish the spectacle of a most distinguished gathering.

At the climax of the ceremony, chamberlains placed the Divine Sword and the Divine Jewel by the side of the Emperor on a table. His Majesty, rising from his seat, proceeded in front of the door of the Sanctuary, and after performing obeisance to the spirit of his Ancestress, symbolized by the Divine Mirror enshrined in the Sanctuary, recited an Imperial Report announcing his formal acquisition of the Divine Treasures and praying at the same time.

Obeisance was then performed by royalties and the Emperor left the Sanctuary with his retinue.


75 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Nov. 3, 1940

Crowds throng Tokyo dance halls before ban

All the remaining dance halls in Tokyo were crowded on Thursday night with dance-lovers, out to have their last night of fun, elbowing and jostling in the throng to the plaintive melody of Auld Lang Syne which signaled the curtains to be drawn on the 13-year-old history of Tokyo’s dance halls.

With the halls overflowing with three to five times more than the unusual number, the cheerful faces of taxi-dancers, about to start afresh in their new careers within a few hours, were seen over the shoulders of their partners on the narrow floor, made more narrower by those waiting their turn.

The trumpets blared more energetically and the orchestras were tuning it up more gaily as if to make the sayonara night appropriate to their gay but short history.

“About one-half of the dancers are going back to their homes,” said a manager. “The other half have obtained jobs as typists, office-workers and employees in a chemical factory. At least, we are glad that all of the girls have got jobs before we closed.”

Dancing had been banned by a law enforced from Nov. 1.


50 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1965

JNR’s Hikari is now world’s fastest train

The superexpress Hikari of the New Tokaido Line Monday began the world’s fastest train service at an average speed of 162.3 kph, cutting travel time between Tokyo and Osaka by 50 minutes to 3 hours 10 minutes.

The previous world record holder in terms of average operational speed was the French train Mistral, which travels a little over 130 kph.

It took a long time for the Japanese National Railways to make the Tokyo-Osaka train the fastest in the world. Ever since Japan’s first express train covered the distance — in 17 hours and 40 minutes — in 1904, the JNR devoted its top brains in a bid to reduce travel time on the line, which has always been regarded as the “face” of the JNR because of its commercial importance. By 1934, the company had managed to shorten the trip to eight hours, but the quest for speed had to make way for military transportation requirements during the war.

With the electrification of the whole Tokyo-Osaka section in 1955, the travel time was cut to 7½ hours. Then, with the completion of the New Tokaido Line in October last year, the Hikari and Kodama “bullet trains” started running the distance in five and four hours respectively.

Both the Hikari and the Kodama have a maximum speed of 200 kph.


25 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Nov. 4, 1990

Nearly 600 dolphins killed in Nagasaki

Fishermen drove hundreds of dolphins onto a beach and slaughtered them for their meat Friday on the East China Sea island of Fukuejima, police said Saturday.

A police spokesman said fishermen came across a school of up to 3,000 dolphins off Miiraku, a coastal town on the island in Nagasaki Prefecture, at around 5 p.m. Friday. A local fisheries union sent boats to the area early Saturday and the fishermen chased hundreds of the animals onto Shiragahama Beach. Eyewitnesses said at least 580 dolphins were forced ashore and beaten to death with clubs. The fishermen then used cranes to pile the carcasses atop a breakwater, they said.

The police spokesman said residents of the Goto Islands, which include Fukuejima, traditionally eat dolphin meat.

Residents of Miiraku said dolphin meat is an important source of protein for them because beef and pork are too expensive.

One elderly woman said, “Although conservationists are increasingly critical of us, we have no choice but to eat them because we have so many dolphins.”

In this feature, which appears on the first Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 117-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.