Charles Lindbergh’s trip to Japan 1931: Dinner Party!

In my next few posts I’d like to show you something really interesting I discovered the other day. I found a set of papers relating to Charles Lindbergh’s dinner party in Japan in 1931. If any readers do not know who Lindbergh is, please read the introductory essay on him in Wikipedia HERE.

This dinner party was held on August 29, 1931 in Tokyo. Although there is no information on this in the aforementioned Wikipedia entry, Lindbergh and his wife made a trip to the East, including Kunashir Island (claimed by both Japan and Russia), Nemuro City (Hokkaido, Japan), Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and then to Nanking and Hankou (both in China). His wife wrote a book called North to the Orient that documents this trip. (I haven’t read it.)

So here is the dinner menu and order of proceedings. First, the cover:

The picture looks like a famous ukiyo-e but I’m not sure. The image is appropriate considering the guest. Labeled at the bottom: ‘The America-Japan Society.’

First, or title, page:

Color flags of America and Japan. The picture is small so you may not be able to read it, so here is what is written: ‘Dinner in honor of Colonel and Mrs. Charles A. Lindbergh, given by The America-Japan Society at The Maple Club (The Koyokan). August 29, 1931.’

A word or two about the Koyokan (紅葉館) before I continue with the description of the menu, etc. This was a very famous hall in Tokyo. It was established in Meiji 14 (1881) and hosted only the most famous and elite in Japanese society. Here is a photo, circa Meiji 40 (1907):

As you can see, very traditional. It was a salon, in the sense of a club. Only the elite could be members, and of course only members could enter. In another location there was a separate business that served as a dance club for foreigners, and this opened in 1883; however, it was limited to dancing and socializing, so it went out of business after only seven years. After that, the foreigners were allowed to use the Koyokan on occasion.

From Meiji 25 (1892) other people were allowed to use the club, but it was rather expensive so even then only the wealthy ‘regular’ people could afford it.

The Koyokan existed until March 10, 1945. On that day, though, it was destroyed in one of the firebombings of Tokyo. The space remained unused until Showa 33 (1958) December 23, when it was sold and upon the land was built the famous landmark of Tokyo, the Tokyo Tower:


Well, I rambled a bit and strayed off-topic. Tomorrow I’ll return to Lindbergh’s party.


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