links students ito uchii newsletters gallery English index index


Interlude: Einstein visited Japan in 1922

A funny picture and funnier comments!

Einstein, together with his second wife Elsa, visited Japan in 1922 (on board Kitano-maru, from Marseille); he knew he was awarded the Nobel Prize (physics) during this trip. But that's not the point here. Look at the following picture in some Japanese restaurant, with Geisha girls; it's funny, but the comments under this picture are even funnier: "A.E. and Elsa with others at a tea ceremony, Japan, 1922" (p. 79).

Photo due to Leo Baeck Institute, New York,
in Essential Einstein, ed. by Allen Boyce Eddington, Pomegranate Artbooks, 1995

Come ooon, the editor must be compleeetely ignorant of Japanese culture, despite this book is published in San Francisco! This cannot be a tea ceremony, because they are just about to toast with Japanese sake! Where is tea? Where is the host, making tea? We can see only a bowl of Japanese clean soup (the right-most on the small table in front of Einstein, black), sashimi (slices of raw fish), a glass of beer, and other dishes. And, of course, no geisha girls for a tea ceremony! No coordinate transoformation can change a dinner party into a tea ceremony!


Last modified August 25, 2000. (c) Soshichi Uchii