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The customs of a foreign country, though, can be hard to bear, and sometimes I feared that the Japanese kindness would make me mad. They were immensely sorry about the accident, and sympathetic with the foreign birdman who had come to grief. Thousands came from near and far to visit me. All day they passed through my room at the end of my bed.

They walked in, dressed in robes of ceremony, black kimonos, with an unusual black skirt suspended outside by two black bands from the shoulders. Often I would come out of the doze I seemed to drift into against my will, to find them within the doorway or at the end of my bed, bowing silently, or perhaps with a faint hiss of indrawn breath, standing in black silk stockings with the big toes separate. They always carried fans; their straw hats they usually left outside.

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If Suzuki were there he would introduce them to me: ‘This is directors of the ice factory at Katsuura; they pray to God for you, and send you ice every day. A 2 cwt block of ice would arrive every morning, sometimes with a message in Japanese inside, or a bunch of flowers or some reeds and a fish frozen in. When there was a fish in the ice I waited patiently for it to melt out, hoping every time that it would come to life, but it never did.

‘This is lady who has hotel outside where you fall.’

‘Tell her that next time I hope I shall arrive without messing up the pavement.’

This was a stock joke always sure to bring down the house. ‘Here is a priest of Buddha; they pray to God for you that you get well soon.’

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