“Few things can give the stranger a better idea of the art and manufactures of Japan than a visit to the Shiba Kwankoba, or bazaar, with its winding maze of corridors, on either side of which all the goods are exposed. It is well to visit this place with a well-lined purse, for the temptations are irresistible. The young ladies in attendance stand in front of, not behind, the counters. There is one immense advantage to the Western stranger, in that, contrary to the almost universal custom in the country, all the articles are marked in plain Japanese figures, and there is no bargaining.
“Hours may be spent in the contemplation of things – new and old – antique carving in ivory; lacquer of every kind, ancient and modern; bewildering piles of delicate porcelain; silks, rich, plain, and embroidered; screens and fans; to say nothing of more homely domestic articles. I was able to make an interesting collection of Japanese tools and instruments, and many charming models illustrating all the operations of agriculture and carpentry, culinary work, and the life of the home.
“Dolls and toys were a great feature, and in the latter the productions of Holland pale before those of Tokio. One was instantly impelled to count up the numbers of nephews, nieces, and grandchildren whose birthdays would be gladdened by a remembrance from the other side of the world.”
– Rambles in Japan: The Land of the Rising Sun, by Henry Baker Tristram, 1895