In Japan there was an artist named Hiroshige who made beautiful pictures of everyday scenes. Manjiro had seen some of these prints: two men seeking shelter from rain that fell in cold, slanting streaks; three travelers lighting their pipes by a fire so real it seemed to glow; several geishas in such find kimonos, you could almost hear the silk rustling.
Forever afterward, when Manjiro thought of what happened that day, he would remember it in sudden, vivid scenes like Hiroshige's prints. And yet unlike those pictures, because nowhere in any of them were there scenes as strange as these:
Twelve shoes, Manjiro counted, as he sat on the bottom of the boat. Stiff-looking things, brown as the skin of hairless dogs. Shiny and smooth, as if made of animal hide.
Eleven eyes. When at last he dared to look up, what he noticed was their eyes. Each pair a different color: green as a stormy sea, blue as the sky, black as night, or brown as his own. One man had only one eye, and that one as gray as a cloudy day. The other eye was covered with a patch….
Six big noses, in fact: one long and hooked, two long and straight, one squashed and wide, one turned up at the end, and another as big and red as a radish. (2.3.1-6)
Here's what's interesting about this passage: The artwork shows "beautiful pictures of everyday scenes," but Manjiro's experience of being rescued is anything but everyday. In fact, even though he says that his experience reminds him of the artwork, we're not entirely sure why—the contrast between the two types of scenes is so striking. Perhaps Manjiro wants similarities to exist between the Japanese and the Americans, but he just can't help focusing on the differences.