8. Hong Kong to Macao

and Japan

3 February to 13 April, 1888




8. Hong Kong to Macao, Japan


3 February to 13 April, 1888

3 February 1888

       We departed at 5:00 o’clock p.m., Friday.  On leaving Manila, I didn’t feel that sweet and melancholy sadness of six years ago upon seeing the monuments.  Now I feel horror seeing the turrets of the cathedrals and the big convents.

       My brothers-in-law and cousins accompanied me.

4 – Saturday

       We could still see the coasts of Luzon.

5 – Sunday

6 – Monday

       The weather improves.

7 – Tuesday

       We arrived in the morning in front of Emuy; it is raining.

8 – Wednesday

       Yriarte with Mr. Mitjans came to the boat.  I lodged at the Victoria School.  I dined at the Victoria Hotel.

9 – Thursday

       The Zafiro left.  I wrote letters to Manila.  Postcard, 3 cents. Postage stamps, 5 cents.  For foreign countries, 10 cents.

 10 – Friday

       I ordered Sra. Ipia's [01] portrait to be made.

11 –

       Today, Saturday, begins the Chinese festival which will last until Monday, inclusive.  From 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon they have stirred up a colossal noise, lighting firecrackers by huge packages that lasted during the whole night.  I invited those on board the ship to dinner at the Victoria Hotel.

12 – Sunday

       The Chinese festival continues; the firecrackers continue.  Yesterday I visited the Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim cemeteries.  The first was beautiful on account of the trees and the cleanliness of its roads and tombs.  I saw the tombs of Masons.

       The second has some beautiful sculptured monuments.  The Muslim has noting particular about it, except the chapel and the tombstones with Arabic inscriptions.

       They light long bunches of firecrackers from a window.  Some can be fifteen varas long, mixed at times with large ones which explode almost like a bomb.  At the end there is a little box enclosing a large number of firecrackers that scatter in an instant.  The richer the Chinese, the more firecrackers he lights.  The little Chinese boys dance and they are snatched away.  They make one laugh seeing them dance in the fire.

       I ate at the house of Mr. Basa at midday; we had pansit. [02] Afterwards we went to visit the American ship Oceanic, which pleased me very much.

       I’m resolved to go on it.  Afterward we ate at the house of Yong Heng.

       We went later to the Chinese theater where I saw a curious play which I understood thanks to my companion Martinez.

       A very poor but studious student looks for work.  His father dies blessing him.  Upon wishing to sell his body in order to bury his father, he encounters a merchant who gives him money.  He becomes the future son-in-law of this rich merchant.  The latter leaves his wife and daughter with a maid and undertakes a journey.  There is a bad student, son of a mandarin, who falls in love with the fiancée of the poor student and he proposes to the stepmother to marry him to her daughter, saying that he is rich, etc.  The avaricious stepmother accepts and she tries and wants to compel the poor fiancée to withdraw his proposal, alleging poverty, etc.  The fiancée does not want to do so, for he says that he has given 300 pesos in advance.  They get angry in their dispute and she demands that he sign an agreement stating that he is withdrawing, but he does not want to do it.  She calls her stepdaughter and wants her to persuade her fiancée, but she refuses.  She beats her.  He calls the rich suitor and the two men engage in angry dispute and they beat each other and after kicking each other, he writes the agreement and signs it, in spite of the protests of the girl who lodges on the floor and cries.  He hands over the agreement to his rival.  But the young woman snatches it away and tears it.  The rival wants him to sign another agreement, but he does not want any more.  They beat each other several times.  The stepmother picks up two brooms and wants to strike him.  He snatches them and chastises the two on the belly and the body until he drives them away.  His fiancée then gives him money so that he may flee and take his examination.  He leaves.  The stepmother and the rival plot to compel the young woman to marry him.  She lashes him, but exasperated, she accosts them both with blows with a stick and they run away.

Both plot, but the maid hears them and the young woman escapes dressed as a student who is going to take an examination, with her umbrella, money, and gown.

Armed with a sword he pursues his rival, the poor student, meets him and rouses him, but a saint protects him and hides him from the other who finds nothing else but the money which he takes to the stepmother.

Led by the saint he is conducted to the garden of a rich man who has left his wife, daughter, and servant.  The daughter falls in love with him, and through the maid, she gives him money, advises him to continue his studies, and then marry her.  He accepts and leaves.

The girl’s father finds the other disguised and takes her to his home and marries her to his daughter to the regret of the latter.  She accepts in order not to reveal her disguise.  They marry but the bride intoxicates her and she falls asleep.  When her cap falls, they discover that she is a woman; they explain and they relate their love affairs and they become very friendly.

The naughty student and the stepmother fall in love with each other and the husband, returning from his journey, surprises them.  They quarrel and the student kills him and she flees.

The other student, who is a mandarin, is going to fulfill his promise and asks for the hand of his second sweetheart and it is granted.  On the wedding night, she introduces her friend to him and the old lovers recognize each other.  The woman tells him about his adventures.  He marries the two and punishes the guilty.

In the Chinese theater when what is said is an aside; the actor pretends not hear it or see it, and he turns his back.  When one rides a horse, he carries only a whip and this means that he is going horseback.  When he enters a house, he raises a foot.  To represent the raising of a curtain, closing of a door, etc., they make the appropriate gesture in the air.  The actor who dies on the stage rises immediately and hides.  Vomiting is portrayed, the wedding bed, the maid leads both to the room with a lantern.  Red is the color of the wedding gown.  The bride covers her face with a fan even in front of her husband.  The wedding ceremony is performed by kneeling and invoking the divinity.

13 – Monday

Musical instruments.  Two disks, a large drum or a wooden drum with the sound of a guitar.  Violin and cornets.  They throw refuse from one side to the other when they get mad.

14 – Tuesday

I ordered a suit at Robert Lang’s.  Sixteen pesos.  I took a ticket and my trunk from the dock.  I stepped on the Asiatic continent on the Chinese side as I did before in Malacca.  Laurel, the procurator to the Dominican Fathers came to visit me.  They have more than 750 houses in Hong Kong.  They are stockholders of all the banks and they handle many millions.  The Augustinians do not spend more than three thousand pesos in the missions at Hankow.  The Dominicans engage in business.

15 – Wednesday

The silver frontals of the Church of St. Dominic and other churches are of white metal.  The genuine ones were cast and brought to Hong Kong.  Lorenzana died of asphyxia in the dungeon.

16 – Thursday

We went to visit Mr. Balbino.  Mauricio; we didn’t find him.  We saw his daughter Belén and her Portuguese girl friend who ran away upon seeing us.  The houses occupied by the Chinese have overhanging stairs; the doors are of the pull and push kind.  The Dominicans have some 1,000 houses.

17 – Friday

Chinese feast.  U-long tea is bitter and it is one of the best at three pesos a pound.

The table is ready; three sauces in front of every guest; the empty one is the largest – 8 centimeters (in diameter) – with a porcelain spoon; another, a smaller one, with soy sauce; and the third, still smaller, with a little cup for the wine; the tiny cup has a content of fine to ten grams.  There is a table cloth and a fork with two prongs.  In the middle thee are small oranges, salted eggs, almonds, and other seeds.

As each guest arrives, he is offered a cup of U-long tea, the superior tea.  Chasan is ten pesos a pound.

When a Chinese man gets a mustache they can no longer shave – 60 years.

They begin dinner with tea; then dried fruits.  Goose – Shrimp – Eggs – Meat – Sharks’ fins – Nest – Tender duck – Chicken with champignon – Ray (fish) – Chicken with ham – Shark’s belly.

Tea with 4 saucers – Chicken with ginger – Fish head – Mushroom and pork with two plates of rolls and tea.

18 Saturday

From Hong Kong to Macao.  On board the Kiu-Kiang, a white boat, beautiful and clean, for river navigation, took us to Macao on a foggy day.

On the boat with us were Mr. José Sainz de Veranda, ex-secretary of the General Government, chief of forests; Mr. José María Basa, some Portuguese, and Englishmen.

The port of Macao is small, low, and marshy.  Many junks, sampans, but few ships.  It is gloomy and is almost dead.  This gentleman, a Filipino married to a Portuguese woman, cultivates plants and flowers among which are many from the Philippines.  He received us very well.  We visited the theater, casino.  The following day we took a stroll through the city.  We went to the church; we visited the grotto of Camoens, the botanical garden, the bazaar, etc. the pagodas.  In the afternoon we saw the procession – an image of Christ or Jesus Nazarene.  Many men, dressed in blue and purple, carrying unlighted candles, joined the procession.  A girl represented Verónica in the church.  She was very pretty.

The following day we left on the same boat Kiu-Kiang.

22 – Wednesday

From Hong Kong to Japan.  We left Hong Kong at 12:15 on Wednesday, 22 February, on board the Oceanic.  My cabin mate was a Protestant pastor who had been in China 27 years and spoke Chinese well and knew some 2,000 characters.  He had a long, white beard and was always chanting, uttering a prayer at every moment.  He was a good man.  On the boat came also a woman, also a Protestant pastor, judging by the fact that she was always with the old man.

On board were two Portuguese, two Chinese, and several Englishmen.

I got very seasick on the voyage.

I didn’t like the food on board.

We arrived at Yokohama on the 28th, early in the morning.


We were met by one from the Grand Hotel where I lodged.


Grand Hotel – Caballero Carrère – Ushi Maru – O-Sei-San.

28 August

13 April

Tokyo Hotel – Shiba Ysarago – We left Japan, Yokohama, 13 April, Friday, at 11:15 a.m. – Meguro – Nikko – Hakone – Miyanishita – Mume Sakura – Subaki – Chodji – Kiku – Feliciano Espino, escapes from Pangasinan.

I like Japan.  Most beautiful scenery, the flowers, the trees, the peaceful inhabitants, so courteous, so willing to please.  O. S. S. [03] Sayonara, sayonara!  I spent a beautiful golden month.  I don’t know if I shall have another one like it in my life.  Love, money, friendship, esteem, distinctions, I did not lack.

To think that I abandon all this life for the uncertain, the unknown.  There I am offered an easy way to live, loved and cherished. [04]

I’m going to dedicate to you the last chapter of these reminiscences of my early youth.  No woman better than you have loved me, no woman like you have sacrificed herself.  As the flower of the chodji falls from the stem fresh and perfect without either being stripped of its petals or withered, tender and poetic even after its fall, thus you fell.  Neither did you lose your purity nor did the delicate petals of your innocence wither – Sayonara, sayonara!  You will never come to know that I have thought of you again not that your image lives in my memory; and nevertheless I always think of you.  Your name lives in the sighs of my lips; your image accompanies and animates all my thoughts.  When shall another divine afternoon like that in the temple of Meguro return?  When will the sweet hours I spent with you return?  When shall there be sweeter, more tranquil, more pleasant hours?  You have the colors of the camellia, its freshness, its elegance. . . .  Ah!  The last descendant of a noble family, true to an unfortunate vengeance, you are beautiful. . . .  Everything is finished!  Sayonara, sayonara!

14 – Saturday

Some have become seasick.

15 Sunday


* During Rizal’s stay at his hometown Kalamba from August 1887 until his departure in February 1888 he received threats against his life from the Spanish friars who hated him on account of his progressive ideas and writings.  Fearing for his life, his family, and friends compelled Rizal to leave the country.

** See Rizal’s letters giving his account of his sojourn in Japan.

[01] His sister Olimpia, who died in September, 1887.  Sra. Is the abbreviation of the Spanish word Señora, literally “Mrs.” In English.  Rizal, a very respectful man, always referred to his married sisters as Sra. María, Sra. Neneng, etc.

[02] A dish of Chinese noodles.

[03] O-Sei-San, name of the Japanese girl.

[04] Rizal received several offers of employment in Japan but the declined them.


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The Life and of Dr. José Rizal
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