All rights reserved. Jake Smith © 2019

"The dinner at the Palace was at 6.40, but we had to be there twenty minutes before the hour named, and I do not think we sat down until some time after seven. We all marched in procession to the diningroom, the Spanish Minister being allotted to accompany me. We waited, standing behind our chairs, until the Emperor and the Empress and the Imperial Princes and Princesses came into the dining-room; then, after the Imperial family were seated, we took our places.

The banquet lasted two hours. I was placed eighth from the Empress on her left, between the Spanish and Chinese Ministers. A[lbert] was placed between two Japanese ladies of high rank who did not know English. Towards the end of dinner, beautiful little silver cranes were handed round, a gift to each honoured guest. They were lovely works of art, and will be charming souvenirs. At the Emperor's table there were 112 seated. In the other rooms Japanese food was served ; and in all 600 dined at the Palace.

The table was a truly magnificent sight, weighed down with its gigantic silver epergnes of storks and tortoises, which animals are emblems of long life and good fortune. These massive centre-pieces were made especially for this auspicious occasion. I never saw anything like the wealth of flowers and orchids, the produce of the Imperial hot-houses.


When dinner was over, a procession was formed, headed by the Emperor and Empress and the Imperial family, and we proceeded into another vast apartment, where we were once again received in audience. I wore a white satin gown, embroidered in silver all down the front, round the skirt, and on the bodice and shoes. It was expressly embroidered here in Japan for this occasion.

The Empress wore a lovely gown of white and silver. After we had remained in the large room for an hour, during which time the audiences were taking place, the Emperor and the Imperial party retired for a rest, and the gentlemen went off to smoke."

EMPEROR MEIJI

In 1894 the Emperor and Empress of Japan celebrated their silver wedding anniversary; with the full diplomatic set invited to join them at a banquet at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. In her memoirs the Baroness Albert d’Anethan, wife of the Belgian Ambassador to the Japanese Imperial Court, recounted: